Wednesday, August 23, 2006

SF Chron: Iran's Stonings; 138 British MPs Condemn Killing Gays, Minors

I have two items to share with you regarding Iran and executions. The first comes from the Matier & Ross political gossip column that ran in the August 20 edition of the San Francisco Chronicle. Though it is short and bland about the emotional issue of stoning women, I'm satisfied the paper gave some space to Iran's barbaric ways of killing people, and the State Department preventing Iranians who studied in the US from visiting California for a reunion.

The second piece of news is from our dear pals in OutRage!UK. They report that more than one hundred members of parliament recently deplored Iran's hanging of gays and minor

The Chronicle said:

Last week, the ever-progressive Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who happens to be Iranian American, won unanimous board approval of two board resolutions near and dear to his heart.

The first resolution condemned the State Department for turning back a group of Iranian university alumni -- who recently landed at SFO for a reunion in Santa Clara -- because they allegedly posed a security risk.

The second resolution asked for the State Department's help to condemn the Islamic Republic of Iran for the reported stoning deaths of two women accused of adultery.

As for how Mirkarimi explains condemning the State Department in one breath, and then asking for their help in condemning the Iranian government in the next?

Simple, said Mirkarimi, "I consider myself a pragmatic."

And here is the release from OutRage!UK:

138 British MPs condemn Iran's execution of gays and minors;
Call for Iran to observe the international human rights conventions it has signed

London – 23 August 2006
Further information:

Brett Lock – OutRage! 0770 843 5917

Chris Bryant MP – 020 7219 8315 or 01443 687 697

British MPs from all parties have signed an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons condemning Iran's execution of gay people and children (full text below).

The motion was tabled by out gay Labour MP, Chris Bryant, who represents the south Wales working class constituency of the Rhondda.

"So far, 138 MPs have signed the EDM," reports Brett Lock of the gay human rights group OutRage!, which helped brief the MP on human rights abuses in Iran.

"Many more would have signed had it not been for the summer period when lots of them go away. We are delighted that so many MPs are concerned about the persecution of gay people and of women who don't conform to Tehran's hardline interpretation of Islam."

Mr Lock also praised Chris Bryant for raising Iranian human rights abuses during the House of Common’s European Union Affairs debate in June (copy below):

"Chris made a moving, informative contribution to the debate, exposing Iran's increasing use of the death penalty for a wide range of crimes, including violations of Islamic morality," noted Mr Lock. "When it comes to the barbaric hangings in Iran, Chris is the conscience of the Commons."

EDM 2616

Bryant, Chris – Labour MP for Rhondda:

That this House commemorates the anniversary of the public hanging on 19th July 2005 of two gay teenage boys, Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni, in Mashad in Iran; notes that at the time of their alleged crimes the two boys were at most 17 years and possibly younger; further commemorates the hanging in Nekra in northern Iran on 15th August 2004 of a 16 year old girl, Ateqeh Sahaleh, on charges of un-Islamic behaviour; condemns these and all other Iranian executions of under-age minors, which are in direct contravention of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Iran is a signatory; notes that as many as 4,000 Iranians have been executed for their homosexuality since the Islamic Revolution in 1979; and
calls on Iran to stop its campaign of torture, harassment and ill-treatment against gays and to end all executions of minors.

Signatures (138)

Bryant, Chris
Herbert, Nick
Joyce, Eric
Gove, Michael
Eagle, Angela
Llwyd, Elfyn
Prentice, Gordon
Purchase, Ken
Reid, Alan
Ruddock, Joan
Simpson, Alan
Spellar, John
Harris, Evan
Heath, David
Hood, Jimmy
Hoyle, Lindsay
Johnson, Boris
Jones, Kevan
Keen, Alan
Linton, Martin
Marris, Rob
Maude, Francis
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, John
McKechin, Ann
Moore, Michael
Morley, Elliot
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Breed, Colin
Buck, Karen
Campbell, Ronnie
Challen, Colin
Clapham, Michael
Cohen, Harry
Cryer, Ann
Davies, David TC
Dobson, Frank
Doran, Frank
Efford, Clive
Fisher, Mark
Flynn, Paul
Francis, Hywel
George, Andrew
Goodwill, Robert
Abbott, Diane
Hamilton, David
Baker, Norman
Bercow, John
Betts, Clive
Stewart, Ian
Strang, Gavin
Stringer, Graham
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Dari
Taylor, David
Teather, Sarah
Thurso, John
Wright, Iain
Younger-Ross, Richard
Hillier, Meg
Brown, Lyn
Butler, Dawn
Clark, Katy
Creagh, Mary
Flello, Robert
Goodman, Helen
Griffith, Nia
Hands, Greg
Jackson, Stewart
James, Sian C
Johnson, Diana R
Keeley, Barbara
Horwood, Martin
Khan, Sadiq
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
Thornberry, Emily
Newmark, Brooks
Penning, Mike
Pritchard, Mark
Waltho, Lynda
Reed, Jamie
Shapps, Grant
Willott, Jenny
Pope, Greg
Rosindell, Andrew
Spink, Bob
Jones, Lynne
MacKay, Andrew
Meale, Alan
Burgon, Colin
Cable, Vincent
Caton, Martin
Conway, Derek
Corbyn, Jeremy
Dean, Janet
Durkan, Mark
Garnier, Edward
Hancock, Mike
Bottomley, Peter
Weir, Mike
Hemming, John
Austin, Ian
Moon, Madeleine
Williams, Stephen
Price, Adam
Pugh, John
Russell, Bob
Sheridan, Jim
Hermon, Sylvia
Hopkins, Kelvin
Iddon, Brian
Lepper, David
Loughton, Tim
McCafferty, Chris
Brake, Tom
Burden, Richard
Cummings, John
Dismore, Andrew
Drew, David
Bayley, Hugh
Vaz, Keith
Vis, Rudi
Wareing, Robert N
Williams, Betty
Anderson, David
Leech, John
McGovern, Jim
Holmes, Paul
Illsley, Eric
Lewis, Julian
Moffatt, Laura
Gerrard, Neil
Williams, Hywel
Willis, Phil
Wyatt, Derek
Swinson, Jo

Chris Bryant MP, speaking in the House of Commons debate on European
Union Affairs on 14 June 2006:

Hansard – official transcript of the parliamentary debate:

14 Jun 2006 : Column 864

Equally important, however, is the issue of human rights in Iran. Iran’s human rights record is grisly. It has been so for many years, but in many ways it has become worse in the past 18 months. Last week in the other place, Lord Triesman reported that the number of executions in Iran had increased dramatically compared to this time last year. We know that the use of the death penalty in Iran is on the
increase: Amnesty International reckons that there were at least 94 instances of its use last year in Iran, and the International Federation of Human Rights estimates a much higher number of cases—between 300 and 400.

I know that not all hon. Members believe that the death penalty is wrong. I believe that it is wrong in all instances, just as torture is wrong, but it is particularly wrong when it is imposed on minors—those aged under 18. Last year, at least nine people aged under 18 were executed in Iran. In 2004, a 16-year-old girl was hanged for fornication and a 14-year-old boy was whipped to death for eating during Ramadan. That is not a situation that people either in this country or across the European Union can countenance any longer.

Furthermore, the death penalty is regularly used in Iran for lavaat, or homosexuality. On 19 July 2005, Ayaz Marhuuni and Mahmoud Askari were executed in Mashhad. They were both 17, although the authorities tried to say that they were 19, and at the time of the alleged crimes, they were probably 15 or 16. Almost certainly, the charges presented against them, which changed from day to day, were trumped up. Not only were they hanged, but it was not a British-style hanging; instead, as is often the case when the death penalty is used for lavaat, they were
executed by a slow hanging method whereby a thin cord is placed to the side of the neck so that the neck does not break and the person struggles on the cord, often for several minutes, before being asphyxiated. It is a deliberately brutal and cruel death, which we should not countenance.

At least 11 people were executed for lavaat between December 2004 and November 2005. Many more have been sentenced and no more has been heard of them, but we can be fairly certain that in many cases the execution has happened, not in public as used to happen, but in private. In addition to that, there are many honour killings in parts of Iran. One expert on the Ahwaz region said that homosexuals

“are generally killed in Ahwaz, by the security forces or by their male kin, in one of three ways: strangulation, throat-slitting or decapitation. If the homosexual youths are killed by the security forces, their corpses—frequently decapitated but accompanied by their heads—are left in the street. Their families therefore have a certain tragic incentive to kill them more humanely”

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. In the limited time left, the Hon. Gentleman should relate his remarks to the European Union.

Chris Bryant: I am grateful to you, Madam Deputy Speaker. I was about to say that what the EU has tried to do, albeit perhaps not frequently enough, is raise such human rights issues in its discussions with the Iranian authorities. I believe that this week provides a real opportunity for the EU to make progress and, in particular, to make sure that no EU country repatriates anyone from Iran who seeks asylum by virtue of their homosexuality. Some people have been repatriated to Iran by other European countries and have subsequently been executed. There are, of
course, countries in Europe that have a mixed record on those human rights issues, but I believe that the EU has a unique opportunity to move forward with a robust record on human rights.


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