Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Commemorating an Execution

This week marks the fourth anniversary of the execution of four Kurdish activists by the Iranian authorities.
Farzad Kamangar, Shirin Alam-Holi, Ali Heydarian, Farhad Vakili and Mehdi Islamian were charged with “enmity against God and the state” and were hanged on May 9, 2010.

Alam-Holi was charged and sentenced to death in a language she did not understand. Born into a poor family in a Kurdish village, she never went to school and therefore never learned Farsi, the language of her prison guards and judge.

In prison she was beaten, including on the soles of her feet, and kicked in the stomach, causing internal bleeding, according to Amnesty International. When she went on hunger strike, she was force-fed through nasal tubes, which she ripped out in protest, damaging her nose.

Farzad Kamangar was a 32-year-old elementary schoolteacher, poet, human rights activist and social worker from the city of Kamyaran, in Kermanshah province. He was arrested in May 2006, and for seven months was not allowed to see his family.

He was repeatedly tortured, beaten and flogged. Despite his injuries, he went on strike to protest the execution of another Kurdish activist, Ehsan Fatahian, in November 2009. 

Kamangar’s letters from prison went viral on the Internet, giving him a voice never heard that widely before.
“My sweetheart, every song that I thought of had something to do with the gallows, a last kiss, cruel oppression, the arm of injustice, being hunted by tyranny, or a mother's tears… I realized that (the songs of my motherland) had traces of blood, the smell of lead, and the marks of boot prints, too,” he wrote.

The crime of these Kurdish prisoners, according to Iranian judicial authorities, was “enmity against God,” which under Iranian law is punishable by death. 

“I have seen absolutely zero evidence presented against Kamangar,” said Khalil Bahramian, Kamangar’s lawyer at the time. “In my 40 years of legal profession, I have never witnessed such a prosecution. Nothing in Kamangar’s judicial files and records demonstrates any links to the charges brought against him.” 

The lawyer was present at the brief closed-door hearing, which he said “lasted no more than five minutes, with the judge issuing his sentence without any explanation and then promptly leaving the room.” 

Bahramian said that the prosecution and the death sentences indicated “discrimination against Kurds” in the judicial system.

The laws of the Islamic Republic stipulate that lawyers are to be notified before the execution. However, the Iranian government broke its own rule and carried out the executions without warning or giving the prisoners and their families a chance to say farewell.

Two years ago, Arash Alaie, one of Kamangar’s cellmates who now lives in the United States, told the author of this article with tearful eyes that Kamangar was a man “full of hope and had taken up practicing English and making plans for when he was released.”

To read a story based on Kamangar's letter from prison go HERE

Originally published at:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

FARZAD and his friends were executed because they were Kurds who tried to keep their national identity and to prove that Farsi , the imposed language is not more revered than kurdish.If any Kurd tries to do the same thing that Farzad did , to his/her Persian friend even here In Toronto he/she will be labelled as separatist ( which is considered as a crime ) or will be killed by sarcastic gazes.