More depressing news out of Iran for opponents of the death penalty and gay rights advocates, some of which must be treated with enormous caution. Here is an excerpt from yesterday's New York Times story about pending executions, for crimes including homosexuality.
There are also emails circulating from NGOs about the potential executions urging caution. I am posting the Times story and NGOs emails in the interest of keeping gay human rights activists and capital punishment opponents informed of these troubling developments. As more information comes my way, I'll post it to my blog.
TEHRAN: The Iranian government confirmed Tuesday that a man was executed by stoning last week for committing adultery, and said that 20 more men would be executed in the coming days on morality violations.
A judiciary spokesman, Alireza Jamshidi, told reporters on Tuesday that a death sentence by stoning had been carried out last week near the city of Takestan, west of Tehran, despite an order by the chief of the judiciary, Ayatollah Mahmoud Shahroudi, not to permit such executions.
"The verdict was final, and so it was carried out for the man but not for the woman," the ISNA news agency quoted Jamshidi as saying.
He said the 20 additional executions were for such things as "rape, insulting religious sanctities and laws, and homosexuality." Most executions in Iran are hangings, often in public and at the scenes of the alleged crimes.
The police arrested about 1,000 people in May during a so-called morality crackdown. Jamshidi said 15 more men were being tried on similar charges and could receive death sentences . . .
Click here to read the full story. And these two emails were shared by the NGOs yesterday:
Subject: Urgent: Iran: More Gay Execution scheduled in Iran
A few hours ago, the Persian-speaking media quoted the spokesperson for the Iranian Justice Department as saying that 20 members of gangsters in Tehran who were arrested and tried will be hanged within the next few days. The court has found these people guilty of violating the religious law, rape, and sodomy. The Tehran's D.A.'s office has not yet decided whether the executions will be carried out public or not.
The Iranian officials this morning confirmed that a man was stoned to death for adultery. He spent 11 years in jail before being stoned on Sunday, July 1 in the city of Takistan, some 100 miles north west of Tehran.
International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission
From: Jessica Stern
Subject: RE: Urgent: Iran: More Gay Execution scheduled in Iran
We are working with Hossein at IGLHRC and using our resources here at Human Rights Watch to find out what we can about this case. As with all Iranian criminal cases that reference homosexual conduct, I'd strongly urge caution before reacting. Media reports translated by Hossein since his first posting indicate that 5 men - not the initially reporter number of 20 - were convicted of raping 44 boys and 3 girls. If true, this clearly is quite different from consensual conduct. The information we
have so far is from a combination of sources, with different levels of reliability: the Iranian government, the Iranian news agency (IRNA), and a semi-independent news agency (ISNA). It's too premature to know what really happened, but we'll post more information as we understand the case better.