Saturday, January 29, 2011

Evil Iran Hangs Dutch Woman:
Zahra Bahrami, RIP

(This photo of Zahra Bahrami and the one below were taken by Eddie Woods.)
My first instinct is to condemn Iran for this and every hanging or execution it carries out. After that, my second instinct is to re-commit as a gay man and person with AIDS to always in every case oppose the death penalty and speak up for the abolishment of capital punishment everywhere.

Thirdly, John Aravosis of AmericaBlog who recently raised the specter of hanging an HIV positive man and has steadfastly refused to state if he opposes hangings, will likely remain silent about the latest Iranian hanging. Fourthly, every gay organization and blogger who consider themselves dedicated to a human rights agenda must unquestionably condemn this hanging.

Just a short while ago my friend Tate Swindell passed along this heart-breaking essay from his American-born and Amsterdam-based friend Eddie Woods. He knew Zahra Bahrami and he provides facts about his friend and circumstances surrounding her execution. Click here to read various mainstream news accounts about the hanging of Zahra.

From Eddie Woods:

Early this morning the murderously barbaric Iranian regime hanged my friend, and my friend Jane’s friend, Zahra Bahrami. Her crime? To be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Even though the Islamic Republic of Iran would like for the world to believe otherwise. Zahra was 46 years old and a dual Dutch-Iranian national. Only the Iranian government refused to recognize her Dutch citizenship and therefore consistently denied Dutch consular officials in Tehran any access to her. And today they killed her.

Zahra, formerly a student of Indian classical music at the Rotterdam Conservatory and a professional belly dancer, had traveled to Iran more than a year ago to be with her daughter, who was undergoing chemotherapy. Foolishly perhaps, she (like thousands of others) participated in one of the Ashura demonstrations that were held on December 27th 2009 to protest the disputed presidential elections in June. Zahra, who has never belonged to any political organization (contrary to another false claim being made by the regime), was arrested and kept in solitary confinement until the moment of her death.

During the entire time she was repeatedly beaten and tortured. And was once forced to make a public confession, which she later retracted. A few months ago her Iranian lawyer, a lady well in the regime’s sights for handling other human-rights cases, was also imprisoned. While just the other day the Dutch foreign ministry appointed two attorneys from the Netherlands to ‘represent’ Zahra, a much-belated move that may well have sealed her fate.

For Zahra had first been tried and sentenced to die not on the political charges (that trial was still meant to happen) but for possessing, smuggling and selling narcotics. Drugs which had clearly been planted (as though they would need to plant them: they could simply say she had them and that would be that). Zahra did not even use drugs, any drugs, and was certainly not a smuggler.

But by trying her for this, the Iranian regime hoped (successfully, it appears) to blindside Western governments, and the Dutch in particular, as to their real motivations by saying this was all part of a ‘war on drugs.’

One AFP story said: "TEHRAN [says] is holding a Dutch-Iranian woman caught with drugs, state news agency IRNA reported, after the Netherlands sought details about a dual citizen reportedly on death row...

"'One of the cases that Western countries use to pressure the Islamic republic is the case of a woman named Zahra Bahrami, who holds European passports as well as an Iranian passport,' Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said, quoted by IRNA.

"'(Bahrami) has been arrested by the police for carrying over 1kg of narcotics,” Mr Mehmanparast said without elaborating on the sentence or her nationality. He dismissed foreign interference in the case, in comments apparently aimed at the Netherlands which sought clarification...

"'They are not allowed to interfere in our internal affairs and our judiciary is quite independent,” said Mr Mehmanparast.

I have lived in Iran. And twice worked there as a journalist. That was when the Shah was in charge. The same Shah who had a rather nasty secret police force called SAVAK. (But hey, aren’t all secret police everywhere nasty? They damn sure are!) The bastards running the show in Iran nowadays don’t leave anyone alone. They call themselves ‘men of God’ but they are evil through and through.

At present suffice it to say that the power-wielding mullahs and their traitorous (to the Iranian people) cohorts must go. As for how to get rid of them, I do not know. Except that it must come from within. As it came from within in Tunisia and is coming from within in Egypt. And hopefully will come from within in numerous other nations ruled by equally brutal and corrupt regimes.

Capital punishment is abhorrent, period. And to say it is more abhorrent in Zahra’s case is missing the point. Zahra’s case is a tragedy because she never should have been arrested, should not have been imprisoned, ought not to have been tortured, and certainly not sentenced to death and hanged. But Zahra is not alone.

Iran executes people day in and day out. As does China. As does the bloody United States. And too many other countries. In the European Union it is banned. Even Russia abolished the death penalty. The rest must follow suit. Without any exceptions and in all circumstances. It is wrong.

Zahra's brother was executed for having a photograph of the Shah in his possession! Her elder daughter committed suicide. She is survived by a younger daughter and a 22-year old son.

RIP Zahra Bahrami. What a terrible way to die. At the blood-stained hands of a horrible regime that is as close to pure evil as any regime possibly can get.

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