Saturday, December 18, 2004

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke

The government of Iran is evil. There is no other way to describe it which wholly characterizes its cruelty, malevolence and its wholly repulsive behaviour. I will not simply say "who are we to judge", I as a moral agent, a rational human being with cognative powers can and will judge. I dare anyone to read the following article found in the Telegraph and dispute the first sentence of my entry here. I know and have lived in the same building as a number of Iranians, they are honest and decent people. Their government does not represent them, and I do not wish to give the impression that I regard Iranians and the government of Iran as one and the same. Given the theocratic regime in power, that distinction is not difficult to make. Iran is not a democracy and the manner in which its ruling theocracy conducts itself is simply barbaric.

The Telegraph

Under Iran's 'divinely ordained justice', girls as young as nine are charged with 'moral crimes'. The best that they can hope for is to die by hanging (emphasis mine) (Filed: 19/12/2004)

As one young woman awaits sentence and another faces death this week, Alasdair Palmer reveals the Iranian legal system's shocking barbarity towards children

"My mother doesn't visit me in prison. If you see her, tell her she promised to bring me cheese curls and chocolate. And she shouldn't forget to bring my red dress."

Those pathetic words may be among the last utterances of a 19-year-old girl, identified only as Leila M, who has been condemned to death in Iran for "acts incompatible with chastity".

According to Amnesty International, Leila has a mental age of eight. What evidence there is of her life so far records an existence of unrelieved misery and brutality.

She was sold into prostitution at the age of eight by her parents. She recalls the experience of when her mother "first took me to a man's house" as "a horrible night. I cried a lot … but then my mum came the next day and took me home. She brought me chocolate and cheese curls."

Forced by beatings and threats to continue "visiting men" from that night onwards, she became pregnant and had twins when she was 14. She was punished with 100 lashes by the Iranian courts for giving birth to illegitimate children.

Leila was bullied back into her degrading and demeaning work. Earlier this year, she confessed to the authorities that she had been working as a prostitute since she was a child – perhaps because she thought that they might help her escape her miserable existence.

The courts did respond by pulling Leila out of prostitution, but they also imprisoned her and used her confession to convict her of "moral crimes", for which the judges have decided the appropriate penalty is death.

They dismissed evidence from doctors and social workers that she has a severe mental handicap. This week, Iran's Supreme Court, which by law must confirm every death sentence imposed by the lower courts, will rule on whether to uphold her execution.

I'm already sickened by the fact child abuse occured and the the Iranian court's answer? Kill the messenger - literally.

"In the case of Hajieh Esmailvand, a young woman found guilty of adultery with an unnamed 17-year-old boy, the Supreme Court has not only confirmed the death sentence imposed by the lower court, but changed the means of death from hanging to execution by stoning."

Apparantly they contemplated a shift that would leave them only two or three centuries behind the rest of the world but decided against it.

Hajieh's original sentence had been for five years' imprisonment followed by death by hanging. A month ago, the Supreme Court annulled her jail sentence – but only so that Hajieh could be stoned before December 21, and with the recommendation that she should be.

In the next two days, it seems likely that Hajieh will die from wounds caused by stones thrown by "executioners". The Iranian Penal Code states that women should be buried up to their breasts before being stoned. Article 104 is specific about the type of stones that should be used when a woman is to be punished for adultery. They "should not be large enough to kill the woman by one or two strikes, nor should they be so small that they could not be defined as stones". Hajieh will die slowly, in agony, buried in sand, as officials lob correctly sized stones at her head.

Right, we wouldn't want our good old fashioned stoning to be over with too quickly. So we can't use the big rocks, and we really shouldn't use those that are too tiny not to hurt alot. We need the "special stonin' rocks".

"The barbarity towards children of the Iranian legal system is all the more surprising in that it contradicts the international legal obligations on the treatment of children, which the Iranian government has adopted. Iran is a signatory both to the International Convention on Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, both of which explicitly forbid the execution of minors - let alone their killing by stoning."

What you mean they dare ignore treaties signed at the UN? Shocking..its almost like pledges at the UN are worth exactly the cost of the paper they are printed on and not a penny more. Oh wait that seems to characterize the UN's influence in the world fairly accurately.

Many Iranians are revolted by the brutality and injustice of their judges' attitude to children. Shadi Sadr, an extremely brave lawyer who represents Atefeh Rajabi's family, has filed a suit against the judiciary for wrongful execution, and is preparing a murder charge against the judge who hanged her.

While fundamentalist mullahs still hold on to power in Iran, her suit is unlikely to succeed. Indeed, those who are disgusted by judicial decisions cannot even safely express their condemnation of a system that not only hangs children, but beats them to death in public: Kaveh Habibi-Nejad, a 14-year-old boy, suffered this fate on November 12 for eating on the streets during Ramadan. A witnesses said that they thought he died because "the metal cable being used to flog him hit his head".

As I wrote above, I believe Iranians and people of every country in the world are fundamentally decent people at heart. Although I won't content that they are wholly good, I take a more Hobbesian view of the matter that we are all imbued with both good and evil. I don't blame Iranians for this, save those whom are supporters of the fundamentalist mullahs who strive to terrorive within and without their countries borders.

The European Union has said that it is ready to "intensify" political and economic ties with Iran if the Iranian government takes steps to allay international concerns over its involvement in terrorism and the abuse of human rights. But the Islamic administration seems to care more about protecting what many of the religious hierarchy regard as "divinely ordained justice" than achieving fresh political and economic concessions from the EU.

We have a country which victemizes its own population, publicly funds terrorism, and in its state newspapers publishes its plans to destroy Anglo-Saxon civilization. Oh and by the way they are building a nuclear arsenal. The obvious European solution is to bring them to a table and work out some sort of compromise. You know if they only built "small" nuclear weapons, executed children more "humanely" then we could all get along right? I think I heard something in England - Edmund Burke rolling in his grave.

At this moment I have to say I thoroughly despise the Neville Chamberlains of the world. You cannot reason and accomodate with what amounts to thoroughly immoral and evil people. At this hour I'm inclined to urge our blood thirsty imperialist neighbours to the south, whom as a Canadian I'm fond of farming out all our dirty work too - please move onwards to Tehran at the first available opportunity.

For Hajieh Esmailvand and Zhila Izadyar, the prospects are bleak. The best they can hope for is to die by hanging rather than being stoned. As for the mentally retarded Leila M - she seems likely to hang in public before Christmas.

My hopes for "peace on earth and goodwill to men" does not extend towards the theocratic regime of Iran. I wish them nothing more than them to fade into history as their outdated barbaric conduct did in the majority of the world more than 500 years ago.


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