July 19 SF Vigil: Stop Iran's Gay Hangings,
Global LGBT Solidarity
The anniversary of Iran's tragic hanging of two gay teenagers in the holy city of Mashad on July 19, 2005, is approaching and in preparation for the fourth annual commemoration in San Francisco of the hangings, I scoured numerous photo archives on the web for every publicly available photo from the executions.
With the tremendously huge assistance from UK gay advocate Simon Forbes, and his encyclopedic knowledge of the death of Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni, I was able to gather fourteen images and reasonably determine what is happening in each picture. The results of our effort are posted below. Click here
to read Simon's 67-page report on this complex case.
Many activists in San Francisco committed to participating in this year's July 19 demonstration back in the autumn of 2007 when Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke in New York City and claimed, to much worldwide astonishment and outright disbelief, that there were no homosexuals in Iran.The New York Times on September 20, 2007
, linked Ahmadinejad's ignorance with the hangings of 2005:
For a country that is said to have no homosexuality, Iran goes to great lengths to ban it. Gays are punished by lashing or death if it is proved that they have had homosexual relations. Two gay teenagers were executed in 2005 in Mashad, a northeastern city.
On Saturday, July 19, gays will assemble at Harvey Milk Plaza, located at Market and Castro Streets, from 12 noon till 1 pm, to call attention to the following issues and demands:
1. Remember the hanged gay Iranian teenagers, and all LGBT victims of hatred and bigotry around the world who've suffered violations of their human rights
2. Engage in coordinated global gay solidarity
3. Abolish the death penalty everywhere, and an especially quick end to executions of minors and women
4. Oppose foreign military intervention in Iran, particularly war-mongering by U.S. politicians.
Activists in other cities are invited to organize their own protests and vigils for July 19. Actions as simple as a handful of people lighting a candle of hope in a community center or cafe, to dozens of people speaking out on the streets, are just a few ideas of what people can do on July 19 in conjunction with San Francisco.
The four goals are guiding principals and others are asked to adopt them, but there is no requirement to do so. Indeed, each city's activists will decide amongst themselves what their demands and goals are. The important thing is to be active that day, and adopt your own local agenda.
I hope to see this list of cities and actions grow larger:
July 19, 2008
City: San Francisco, CA
Location: Harvey Milk Plaza, Castro & Market
Action: Speak out
Time: 12 noon
Here are the 14 photos Simon and I were able to track down of the barbaric killings in Mashad, Iran, on July 19, 2005. Of course, if you have any others, please send them to me and I'll post them here. The images are presented in what we believe is chronological order.
1. Crowds line up against and on top of a wall surrounding Edalat (Justice) Square, as the preparations for the killings are underway.
2. Members of the local police force, maintain order at another part of Edalat Square.
3. The condemned gay teenagers in the police van, being recorded and videotaped. The interviewer and camera probably are members of the press, but that is not definitively known who they are. Mahmoud Asgari is the boy on the right speaking into the microphone, and Ayaz Marhoni is crying on the left.
4. Blindfolded and handcuffed, Asgari is forcibly escorted out of the van.
5. Until recently, human rights workers were unaware of this Agence France Presse photo. Marhoni has been placed blindfolded and hands-bound on the wooden ledge of the make-shift gallows on the flatbed of a truck, positioned under a swinging noose. Three security agents prepare to hoist Asgari up to the ledge.
6. The nooses are lowered closer to the boys' necks. Asgari on the left, Marhoni on the right.
7. Marhoni has the noose tightened around his neck by the hooded executioner, while Asgari's executioner pulls the noose down past his eyes.
8. The noose for Asgari inches closer to his neck, as the executioner lowers it past Asgari's ears.
9. With only moments before the truck is to drove off, Asgari and Marhoni are moved into place for death by short-drop hanging. According to witnesses who spoke to Amnesty they took 20 minutes to die. Their agony was not over in a few short minutes.
10. This image appeared in the Quds daily newspaper, and shows the bodies swinging right after the truck has driven away, removing the platform. The banner is visible from this front angle, and it reads "EXECUTING JUSTICE = PROVIDING SECURITY." Both boys appear to be still conscious and alive at this point.
11. The almost-lifeless rigid bodies of Asgari, left, and Marhoni, right, swing from the temporary metal girders.
12. Viewing the execution scene looking toward the flatbed truck. From the back of the sign, in Farsi, the words "EXECUTING JUSTICE = PROVIDING SECURITY" are much more visible.
13. A multitude of men calmly watch as Marhoni and Asgari struggle in vain from the gallows.
14. A weeping teenage boy, said by local sources to be Asgari's brother, releases his grief. Look closely at the photos of Asgari, in his white shirt and blue pants, and you will see a striking family resemblance to the crying young man.