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Persian Letters

A public execution in Darzin, eastern Iran.
Blogger Madyar reacts to an ad, published in an Iranian newspaper, that calls on people to attend the executions of alleged thieves in Khuzestan Province.

Since I saw this picture, I have been in a state of shock and cannot help but wonder about the reasons behind such an act. It’s not possible to imagine such blatant disregard for all the protests against so many executions in the country. The Judiciary, besides not changing its attitude in the face of all these protests over death sentences and executions, has also made the enactment of these inhuman verdicts public and is inviting the people to witness it.

The death sentence is a violent and inhuman verdict, and carrying out the execution is also an inhuman act, but inviting people to watch the execution is tantamount to spreading violence and institutionalizing it in the minds of the members of the society. Through such an act, the Judiciary has clearly indulged in spreading violence.

No ticket is issued for the violent act and it is not even carried out indoors. Some children and or young people, with their parents or alone, may go to witness the scene. What an impact it would leave on their minds! Witnessing the death of a person at the hand of another person cannot be justified by any moral, human, or legal norms. And what positive outcome could it possibly have for the viewers? The purpose is nothing but to create intimidation and fear and to further violence and oppression in society. What they want to say openly is that they will deal in this way with criminals, and even with their opponents.

According to the figures available to me, at least 33 political prisoners in Iran are languishing in prison awaiting execution. Ehsan Fattahian [a Kurdish activist who was hanged] was one of the examples of violent executions of political prisoners carried out last month.

Who is the one to decide whether someone has fought against God, on the basis of which death sentences are awarded? Who says that you are God's representative on Earth and can act on His behalf and take someone's life, which God has given to him? In which countries is carrying out executions publicized on billboards? It only happens in Iran.

If we look at Iranian cities, we won’t find a single billboard publicizing a book. IRIB [Iran’s state broadcaster] doesn't advertize any books. The national media doesn’t advertize even a single book shop from all across Iran, but there are advertizing posters on the walls across the city inviting people to come and watch the execution of those who have fought against God. But, in the same country and in the very same province of Khuzestan, you have to pay a lot of money to the municipality if you want to publicize your book on a billboard.

In a country where books are either censored or are denied permission to be published; in a country where newspapers are banned and journalists are put in prison; and where radio and television have never advertized one single book; in a country where there are only three or four standard theater; where some of the cities are not even equipped with a single bookshop or cinema; in a country where libraries are destroyed and prayer halls are constructed instead (one of the acts of Ahmadinejad during his time as the mayor of Tehran); in a country where bookstore-cafes are shut down because they are a meeting place; in a country where books can be banned even after publication and films are denied screening permissions even after their production, people are invited to come and watch executions in the open.

It is then that they invite the martyr-raising people of Ahvaz to the execution ceremony. This then becomes a celebration for a government and the judicial system, which has given the people nothing but misfortune and violence.

I look at the children of yesterday and those of today where I'm standing, they’ve never seen [Ahmad] Shamloo's face on TV [one of Iran’s most prominent poets and writers], they’ve never seen any TV program on Foroogh [Farokhzad, Iran’s most prominent and influential female poet, who died in a car accident] and [Mehdi] Akhavan [Sales, a prominent poet], they’ve never heard that a state institution arranged a permanent program of recitations of Shahnameh [the 11th century Book of Kings] for the people.

I don't remember the state media ever saying that there should be no killing, no fighting, and no bloodshed; I don't remember them ever talking about love and affection. Whatever there was, it was war against our common enemy and that of God and the entire world; war against the hypocrites....

I remember the two-year period when I said goodbye to so many people who never returned. I don't remember if they ever had television documentaries on Gandhi and Mandela. It was all about the blood spilled in Karbalah. It was about the massacre of Palestinians and slogans of "Down with...." It was all about demolishing the anti-revolutionaries and those against Islam.

I look at the children of my land who have to grow up witnessing the images of their sisters being beaten up in the streets or the bruises inflicted by batons on their bodies, images of a brother who is either in jail or has just been released showing them the scars of the torture he went through, the image of the executions of those who stand up against God.... a complete image of violence.
Blogger Mohammad Nurizad, who used to be a columnist with the hard-line "Kayhan" daily, reacts to the recent controversy in Iran over the alleged tearing up of a picture of the founder of the Islamic republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, during an opposition protest:

I personally take all the responsibility for the tearing up of the Imam's [Khomeini's] photo, so that whatever is going to happen in the coming weeks as a result of it becomes clear.

I confess: I made a mistake. I got emotional. When I saw all of you tearing up things related to the Imam, I was stupid enough to tear up his picture. You shattered the dignity of the Sepah [the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps], the Basij, and the Imam, but to me just his photo was enough.

I saw that you tore up the road map of the Imam, which comprised respecting people and was a safe harbor for their dignity, but I could only get his photo.

I saw you tear up the Imam's will, a will that emphasized the welfare, benefit, dignity of the nation, while the Imam's photo became my share of it.

I saw his holy face with my very own eyes that smirked towards your attitude; I heard his voice echo around all of you, saying: "Oh you all who mourn the tearing-up of my photo, why did you not shroud yourself and failed to raise harsh slogans for the insult to the intellect, Islam, and the path of Khomeini, the day when my children's blood was spilled in response to their peaceful protest against the outcome of the elections?"

Actually it was me, Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini, who told Mohammad Nurizad to tear apart my photo so that God Himself, intellect, history and the future could witness the misfortune of a group that does not possess the ability to make up a simple lie.

In a country where the intellectual, political, and social products of the Imam are reduced to sarcasm, tearing up his photo is in fact a sign of respect.

I see two leanings from this comedy staged by our friends: the second one prepares the ground for the first.

Firstly, our friends' fear and, second, their need for publicity. That is, our clergy, who all along insisted on the enrichment of our people's intellect after the revolution, are no more capable of using such childish tricks to bring the people into the streets in response to the tearing-up of a photo, or on the other hand, keep them indoors on the martyrdom of our youth.

Our friends' sense of fear is tied to quite a long story. They are even stricken by fear at the mere thought of the fall of the leaders, not to mention the reality that is far bleaker than that.

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About This Blog

Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.

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