Why the lack of response to the public hanging of
August 13, 2005
In the end, we will remember not the
words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
-- Martin Luther King Jr.,
US Black civil rights leader & clergyman (1929 - 1968)
Is the persecution
of some permissible while others like our courageous
journalist, Akbar Ganji clearly not and perhaps easier to admonish? I have
mixed feelings when I read the responses condemning the injustice that Mr.
Ganji has endured, while the silence becomes deafening.
What I am alluding to
is the response, or lack of, to the public hanging of
two young men or should I say boys, Mahmoud Asgari (16) and
(18) at time of their execution, July 19, 2005 in Mashad,
Iran. This is
after serving fourteen months in prison, probably enduring
more than the 280
lashes for theft, disturbing public order, and consuming
alcohol. They were
accused of raping another boy a few years younger than them
who at the time
was 13-years old.
And I wonder why I haven’t heard
from the people of the Iranian diaspora
whether in self imposed exile, refugees, intellectuals, and
speaking out against the atrocity of this act. What about
this case creates
such a void? Is there confusion as to the veracity of its
injustice? Why the
So I inquire in this manner to make a public nuisance of
an issue that for
too long has been kept under wraps.
The incident is a clear
violation of human rights, more specifically of
children’s rights, of international treaties (International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Convention on the
Rights of the
execute a minor (the US only caught up with this a few months
abolishing the juvenile death penalty). Is it not?
if it’s confusing to know whether to stand
up and support two boys
who may have committed an atrocious act such as rape. Or
if it was
consensual [a practice that is only far too common among
adolescent boys and
often talked about even if rarely documented in contemporary
Iran], is it
perceived as supporting another atrocious act, namely sex
between young men
I wonder if people believe that the boys received
a fair trial, even though
Mahmoud-the-sixteen-year-old’s lawyer, was quoted as saying, “The
has trampled its own laws” since the courts usually commute death sentences
in the case of children to five years in jail.
Do men or boys who rape young girls get executed, based
on the same criteria that these boys were condemned?
Reports indicate that the boys did not know admitting to
homosexuality would lead to death. So this is clearly confusing.
These boys have the audacity to
declare an identity that is often discounted as a Western invention. Perhaps
it is this then that slows down the transmitters. They were not just having
sex as is anecdotally common place and the butt of every other Iranian joke,
but declaring an aspect of self to be reckoned with. A self in opposition
to Sharia Law.
At this moment I am not so much concerned with the practices
of the Islamic
Republic. This is not the first time they have executed based
orientation. It is the mostly secular, over-educated, mostly
upper class Iranian “exiles”, oppositionists
of every color, who are nowhere
to be heard. I know you couldn’t possibly agree with the executions.
I am saddened and disappointed by the lack of response
(az sokootetoon kar shodeem) to what clearly reads to me
as injustice and a grave violation of
Links to articles on the
to an Execution
Story Behind 'Iran Gay Hangings' Mired In Controversy
Rex Wockner, Editor-At-Large
Human Rights Watch
End Juvenile Executions