This summer the Iranian regime carried out a fresh wave of torture and executions, keeping up its record of systematic human rights abuses, including killings of children, political dissidents, gay people and women. Some 50 people were killed by the Islamic Republic in August — a sharp increase even since 2006, when “only” 177 people were executed across the whole year.
Iran’s tyrants have the ignominious honour of ranking as the world’s second most prolific state killer, trailing only China in the number of executions. The regime’s tally includes the hangings and stonings of those who have committed such “crimes” as “sodomy” and “apostasy”. Each year the theocracy puts to death three times more people than even the United States of America.
The recent ramping-up in capital punishment has accompanied a government tightening-up, asserting its control over society with a crackdown on breaches of “Islamic law”. The increasingly unpopular President Ahmedinejad and his administration not only mete out the death penalty to punish raped girls accused of “adultery” and boys who have gay sex, but as part of a campaign to maintain order in the face of a burgeoning workers’ and women’s movement which threatens the very basis of the theocratic order.
There are currently no fewer than 416 political dissidents in Iran’s jail cells. Those whom the regime will allow to languish in prison, rather than killing them, are still subject to horrific human rights abuses. On 5 August, 11 leaders of the National Union of Unemployed and Dismissed Workers were condemned to 91 days in prison and ten lashes of the whip for their role in organising this year’s May Day demonstrations.
In the face of this onslaught, activists have began campaigns to denounce the regime. On 25 August, the International Committee against Executions published a letter from inside Iran’s prisons, with 26 political prisoners and people on death row calling for worldwide demonstrations to bring international attention to the Islamic Republic’s human rights abuses and to try and stop the executions from taking place. Clearly, this struggle against the death penalty in Iran must be a key part of the fight for basic human freedoms and democracy in the face of the despotic regime and US sabre-rattling.
Iranian lesbian under deportation threat
An international campaign to defend Iranian asylum-seeker Pegah Emambakhsh from deportation has succeeded in delaying her return to Iran. Arrested in Sheffield on 13 August, Pegah was imprisoned in Yarlswood detention centre and was due to be expelled from the UK two weeks later — because she is a lesbian and because of her past life in Iran, she risked being put to death upon her return.
But a global campaign and the intervention of Sheffield Central MP Richard Caborn, succeeded in winning an eleventh-hour reprieve for Pegah. She is still detained at Yarlswood, from where she sent a message to her supporters on 8 September
“I am having a difficult time right now, with no assurances for the future and with a lot of pain in my soul. I cannot deny that I am still very frightened, and the separation from my beloved children hurts so much that at times it seems unbearable. You don’t know how much of a comfort it is to me to know that you are out there. You don’t even know me, yet you are working for my cause, sticking your necks out and fighting for me, you write to me and send me wonderful flowers. I wasn’t expecting anything like this.”
Despite the campaign against deporting Pegah back to Iran, including an online petition signed by more than 10,000 people, her stay in the UK and her life are still in grave danger. Visit www.annesdoor.com for more information about the campaign.