Three US Reps Ask Rice to Investigate Iran's Gay Killings
Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA)
July 29, 2005
The Honorable Condoleezza Rice
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Secretary Rice,
We write to express our concerns over the recent execution of two gay teenagers in northeastern Iran. The exact details of the case remain unclear, and because the conflicting reports about the nature of the charges against the two boys make it difficult to react appropriately, we urge the State Department to do everything it can to clarify the circumstances of this case.
Initial reports were that the 16-year-old and 18-year-old boys -- who prior to being hanged in public, were held in prison for 14 months and severely beaten with lashes -- were punished for homosexual activity with each other. In other reports, the Iranian authorities claim the teenagers were accused of raping a 13-year-old boy. Some human rights groups suspect that this charge may have been trumped up as an excuse for the brutal treatment of gay people and to undermine public sympathy for the boys.
Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi last week condemned the hanging of two teenagers, and as you may know, there is already worldwide reaction and protests by the international community and human rights groups.
We know that the Administration rightly does not accept without skepticism statements made by the Iranian regime, so we hope you will apply the appropriate degree of scrutiny in this case. Specifically, we urge the Department of State to take the following actions:
-- Investigate and clarify the facts surrounding the execution of Mohammad Askari and Ayad Marhuni, including whether the charges and the conviction were due to their homosexuality, and if they were, issue a strong condemnation of this brutal killing;
-- Condemn Iran for its national policy of persecution of its citizens based on sexual orientation, and urge the new president to initiate criminal justice reforms; and
-- Remind Iran to uphold its legal obligations under international treaties it is a party to, as well as those arising from customary international law, regarding the protection of minors, international legal standards, torture, and inhumane treatment and punishment.
Thank you for your consideration.
/s Rep. Jan Schakowsky
/s Rep. Barney Frank
/s Rep.Tom Lantos