Hashem Shaabani, a poet and Hadi Rashedi an activistwas recently hanged to death in Iran for being "enemy of God" and for threatening national security.
Hashem Shaabani, belonging to the Arab minority called the Ahvazis and was very vocal against the treatment of his community by the government of Iran.
Shaabani was also jailed in 2011, along with 13 other people, all of whom were found guilty of "waging war on God" and spreading "corruption on earth" .A letter Shaabani wrote to his family from the prison shows how he felt about the “hideous crimes against Ahvazis, perpetrated by the Iranian authorities, particularly arbitrary and unjust executions.”
“I have tried to defend the legitimate right that every people in this world should have, which is the right to live freely with full civil rights. With all these miseries and tragedies, I have never used a weapon to fight these atrocious crimes except the pen,” he wrote.
Iran, under Hasan Rouhani, who has been bending over backwards to show a very moderate side of his country since he came to power, has been on an execution spree. According to the Iran Human Rights Documentation Centre (IHRDC) more than 300 people have been executed since Hasan Rouhani became president in August.
In January alone, more than 40 people were put to death, most of them for drug related offences. However, death sentences for any activity labeled as blasphemy and abductions, torture and even death sentences of minorities including the Ahvazis are also a norm.
Amnesty International has documented numerous cases of arbitrary arrest, detention, ill-treatment, and death penalties of political prisoners, including that of minorities like Ahwazis.
Human rights activist Pamela Geller named the following as just some of the Ahwazi Arab political prisoners in 2012:
- Mohammad Ali Amouri Nejad
- Hashem Shaabani
- Hadi Rashedi
- Jabar al-Boushokeh
- Mokhtar al-Boushokeh
- Abdulreza Amir Khanafereh
- Abdul Amir Mojadami
- Shahab Abbasi, son of Ahmad
- Ghazi Abbasi, son of Ahmad
They were only a few of the unfortunate ones targeted by the government of Iran.
According to Iranian journalist Amir Taheri, “Shaabani is not the first Iranian poet to be murdered by the mullahs. The left-wing poet Sa’id Sultanpur was abducted on the day of his wedding on Khomeini’s orders and shot dead in a Tehran prison.
Rahman Hatefi, writing under the pen-name of Heydar Mehregan, had his veins cut and was left to bleed to death in the Evin prison.”
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It is a sad and unfortunate side of Iran, a side that Iran is trying to distance itself from in the recent months. However, the modernity and civilized face of Iran that Hassan Rouhani wants the world to see should run deeper than political gestures on international forums.