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Towards a society free of capital punishment - Moratorium 2000

A worldwide campaign is underway to make the world free of the capital punishment by the end of the year 2000. On Human Rights Day (10th December) Amnesty International is launching "Moratorium 2000" with the same objective. Three years earlier, on Human Rights Day in 1996, the Iranian Human Rights Working Group (IHRWG) launched a campaign to abolish the death penalty in Iran. We welcome this opportunity to combine our efforts with the international human rights organisations and press for an early end to the practice of capital punishment in Iran.

Our call issued on 10th December 1996 was endorsed by a significant number of Iranian political organisations as well as hundreds of individuals from all walks of life. Among these were Iran Nation Party, the first political party inside Iran ever to come out against the death penalty, and its leader Mr. Darioush Forouhar who was slain together with his wife last year by agents of Iran's Ministry of Intelligence in what was later to be known as the "chain murders".

The campaign against the death penalty launched by IHRWG was supported by a series of educational and promotional articles written by members of the group for the Iranian media which were mostly published outside Iran. However, this year, for the first time we managed to bring up the issue inside Iran through publishing an article in the mass circulation daily Neshat. Regretfully, the article was responded with a huge outcry by certain politico-religious groups in Iran who claimed that a call to abolish the death penalty amounted to the negation of Islam and its religious laws of retribution (though the article had made no reference to these or any other religious laws).

Following this outcry, the newspaper was shut down, its publisher and editor persecuted and sentenced to imprisonment, and the author of the article was vilified and threatened with death. However, as a result of this article being published, and the publicity surrounding it, the issue of the death penalty has been raised to a main topic of political debate in Iran with promising signs of growing support among the politically active population (both religious and secular) for an end to capital punishment in Iran.

We once again repeat our call to all Iranians and Iranian political groups to join the world campaign against the death penalty and support our call to the Iranian government to respond positively to human rights organizations and put an end to the practice of capital punishment in Iran - NOW! Please write to us or visit our web page dedicated to the death penalty campaign (, see the text of our 1996 call, and declare your support.

Iranian Human Rights Working Group (IHRWG)

Human Rights Day 10th December 1999


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