Recent news and updates
In a phone conversation with Nazanin Afshin-Jam, Nazanin Fatehi said that she is now attending school. Nazanin only has elementary school education because she had to help her parents with raising other children while they both had to work to support.
Nazanin said that her grandmother and that her mother is also suffering from much swellings on her feet and ankles. Her father was also hospitalized for a surgery, therefore they have much financial hardship.
Nazanin said that she has been having hard time sleeping at nights and she often stays awake the whole night because she feels frightened, as if someone is following her.
Obviously an attempted rape which resulted in murder followed by 3 years of imprisonment while waiting to be executed at a young age has had substantial emotional toll on Nazanin.
In an interview with ISNA (Iranian Student News Agency), Mohammad Mostafei, attorney for Nazanin Fatehi stated that: "According to Islamic (Republic of Iran's) Penal law 629-B, when a person who is subjected to an attempted rape commits a murder, s/he should not be penalized. Nazanin was arrested in 2005 and the year after she was sentenced to death and after appeal...the sentence was vacated... my client was ordered to pay blood money retribution."
He added: "If Nazanin was not sentenced to death; first she did not have to spend more than 2 years in prison and secondly she was not required to pay blood money.
Considering that my client was defending her own her niece's chastity , Nazanin's other attorney (Shadi Sadr) and I believe that she does not deserve any punishments including paying blood money, therefore I have filed an objection to that part of the verdict within the time allowed," said Mostafaei.
Delara Darabi is now in imminent risk of execution, after her death sentence was confirmed by the appeal review department of the Supreme Court of Iran. It is now only Iran's head of the Judiciary who has the power to stop the execution and order a new trial. Her execution may happen at any time.
Delara is sentenced to death for a murder of a female relative that happened when she was 17 years old. She initially confessed to the murder, but later retracted her confession, saying her boyfriend Amir Hossein was the murderer, and that she had claimed responsibility to protect him from a death sentence. But by then it was to late.
Delara's attorneys have pointed out that she is left-handed, while the murder was in all probability committed by a right-handed person, and that Delara had no personal motive in committing the murder.
Delara may be executed any day now. Please write a letter to Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, head of the Judiciary, and ask that her death sentence is commutted. Point out that Delara was a minor when the murder was committed, and also that her confession, the main basis for her conviction, has been retracted. More information can be found on the links below.
Head of the Judiciary,
His Excellency Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi
Justice Ministry BLDG. - Panzdah-Khordad (ARK) Sq.
Phone: [00 98 21] 391 1109
Fax: [00 98 21] 390 4986
(In the email subject line write:
URGENT LETTER TO AYATOLLAH HASHEMI SHAHROUDI )
Comment box through his website:
(The fields are written in Persian. The first line is for your name, 2nd your email, 3rd the subject which should read 'URGENT LETTER TO AYATOLLAH HASHEMI SHAHROUDI' and 4th field is for your comments).
You can also send an email through Amnesty International
Please visit this new website, created to campaign for ending the use of death penalty against children in Iran. They are at present the only country in the world who still officially execute minors who was less than 18 years old when the crime they are sentenced for was committed. It is time to put an end to this deplorable practice. Go to http://www.stopchildexecutions.com to see how you can help.
Today Nazanin Afshin-Jam spoke with Nazanin Fatehi and reported that she sound "extremely happy". Nazanin Fatehi has registered at school and will start school after the Persian New Year Holidays. Her attorney, Mr. Mostafaei visited her and provided her with household items including a telephone and television for her new house. She sounded very much adjusted and happy to have her new found freedom. She said that sometimes her old inmates phone her and ask her what freedom feels like and want her to explain everything that is going on for the Persian New Year. They really miss her.
When asked about her her experiences in prison, Nazanin revealed that it was an extremely hard time for her in prison. She said most of the women were really nervous and stressed all the time. Most of them had lost hope and were waiting to die. She said that when she first received the news of her execution she became out of control and broke a lamp in her prison. For this she was sent to solitary confinement for months. She said that while she was in solitary confinement sometimes the guards would check up on her as the prisoners were supposed to be asleep by 10pm. Whenever they saw that Nazanin was still awake, the next morning they would take her to "hefazat" (protection division) and they would beat her, sometimes with electric chains. She still has marks from this brutality. When she was in solitary confinement she said it was very cold and she had to sleep on the ground sometimes with no blanket and so now she has back problems.
When she was released from prison she had visited the law offices of Mr. Mostafaei and Shadi Sadr and she is now excited of the prospect of one day becoming a lawyer and fighting injustice.
"With the strength and hope in her voice I believe it could happen." Nazanin Afshin-Jam said.
Nazanin Afshin-Jam and Stop Child Executions Campaign wish a happy and healthy Iranian New Year to Nazanin Fatehi and her family.
Amnesty International issued a new worldwide appeal to help save Delara Darabi from execution:
IRAN: Child offender at risk of execution
Appeal status: Active
Appeal started: March 2007
Delara Darabi, aged 20, is at risk of imminent execution for a murder which took place when she was 17 years old. She has reportedly been sentenced to death for a second time after her case was retried. She reportedly attempted to commit suicide in prison in January 2007.
Delara Darabi was initially sentenced to death by Branch 10 of the General Court in the northern city of Rasht. The Supreme Court later found "deficiencies" in her case and ordered a retrial. However, following two trial sessions in January and June 2006, Delara Darabi was sentenced to death for a second time by Branch 107 of the General Court in Rasht. Her death sentence was reportedly confirmed by the Supreme Court in February 2007 and so she could be executed at any time.
According to reports, Delara Darabi and a 19-year-old man named Amir Hossein broke into the house of Delara Darabi's elderly female relative to commit a burglary. Amir Hossein allegedly killed the woman during the burglary. Delara Darabi initially confessed to the murder, but subsequently retracted her confession. She claims that Amir Hossein asked her to admit responsibility for the murder to protect him from execution, believing that as she was under the age of 18, she could not be sentenced to death.
To find out more about the death penalty in Iran see article in the Wire March 2007- Child offender's death sentence quashed in Iran.
Please write, urging the authorities to commute the death sentence imposed on Delara Darabi immediately. Remind the authorities of their commitment to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states that "sentence of death shall not be imposed for crimes committed by persons below eighteen years of age."
Send appeals to:
Ayatollah Sayed 'Ali Khamenei
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Salutation: Your Excellency
Nazanin Afshin-Jam spoke with Nazanin Fatehi this morning and she was in great spirits and was laughing a lot. She said that she is being showered with love and affection from her family and she is very happy. She says that even when she goes out she has an entourage of family members who do not want to leave her side. She would like to start school as soon as possible. She said that eventually she would like to become a lawyer. Along with Nazanin’s family, and lawyer Mr Mostafaie, the Save Nazanin campaign are exploring various options so that her future will be happy safe and fruitful.
Here are Nazanin's replies to the questions, translated by David Etebari:
"I was very happy to be free and my freedom is like a new birthday.
When taken in to custody I did not think that I would end up being imprisoned for almost three years. I was innocent but the judge did not believe me and it wasn't until the re-trial that the witnesses told the truth and judges believed me.
When I heard the news of my death sentence I was devastated. I wished to die than being executed.
While in prison I received some news of the activities for my freedom. If it wasn't for all the efforts on my behalf, I would not have been released. I thank Nazanin Afshin-Jam and Mina Ahadi for their efforts as well as everyone who worked so hard to gain my freedom. I also thank everyone who made donations to make the payment of the bail possible. I wish I could do something in return but there is not much that I am capable of doing at this time.
There are so many innocent inmates in prison but there is nothing that they can do. Many innocent people have been in prison for few years and still unsure of their cases outcome. Shahla Jaahed, Zahra and many others there were sentenced to death.
I am hopeful that they all be freed with the efforts from outside. They also are hopeful that their innocence be also proven so they too can be free.
I want me and my sisters to study and finish school.
Thank you so much."
According to Iranian newspapers, Delara Darabi's death sentence has been upheld by the Supreme Court for the second time. This means of course that she may be executed very soon. Delara is sentenced to death for killing a woman during a break-in she committed with her boyfriend. Delara initially confessed to this murder, but later retracted her confession, saying her boyfriend was the killer, and she confessed only to save him from the death penalty. They believed that since she was only 17 years old she would get a milder punishment, but this turned out to be terribly wrong. To support Delara's new statement, evidence presented during the trial clearly showed that the murder was committed by a right handed person, whereas Delara is left handed.
Delara has not been well treated in prison, and her mother says she only weights 35 kilos. Two weeks ago she tried to take her life by cutting her wrists, but it was discovered in time and she was rushed to a hospital where the doctors saved her life.
David Etebari who created the mySpace website for Nazanin, have created a site for Delara too:
Go there to learn more about Delara's case. Even if you don't believe that she is innocent of murder, she should not be executed for something that happened when she was 17 years old. Together we saved Nazanin from death, now we can save Delara too!
PS: Don't forget that there are at least 22 other minors on death row in Iran. Iran and Pakistan are now the only countries in the world who still execute minors.
These pictures show Nazanin and her family celebrating after she was released from prison on Wednesday.
(Click on the pictures to see bigger versions):
Nazaninwasfreed from prison today and reunited with her family. She could not believe that this day had arrived. She cried in her mothers arms and took turns embracing her siblings and father.
Nazanin's lawyer said that she had told him she wanted to go to school and study hard to get her life back (Nazanin only has 2. grade education). Soon afterwards, some of the prisoners Nazanin had served with called and said they already missed her.
Nazanin said that she was extremely happy, and felt like she had been born again. She thanked and gave her love to everyone who made her release possible.
Thirty people including Nazanin Fatehi's family and lawyer waited for two hours outside the prison gates with flowers in hand to greet Nazanin.
Despite the fact that Nazanin's lawyer Mr. Mostafaei had the signed court documents in hand for her release, the prison administrator said there were oustanding issues from the transfer from her previous prison Rajaei-Shahr in Karaj to Evin prison in Tehran where she is now. Due to National holidays in Iran on Monday and Tuesday, the lawyer expects her get her out on Wednesday.
Thanks to 42,000 USD in donations advanced to Iran , along with $1,000 USD collected in Iran, the total amount of bail requested by the courts in Iran have been paid.
Nazanin’s lawyer Mr. Mostafaei is completing all of the paper work necessary for Nazanin’s release. If all goes as planned, she should be free tomorrow, Sunday January 28th. A small congratulatory reception has been organized by her lawyers to celebrate her freedom.
Nazanin Fatehi and her family are ecstatic that she will be home soon. They kept repeating how grateful and thankful they are to everyone that has helped them along the way.
There are still outstanding expenses, so please make a donation on the Donations page and check back later for more details and information.
According to the Iranian newspaper Etemaad, Nazanin's attorney Mr. Mostafei has verified that "The legal proceedings of posting bail has been completed and Nazanin will be freed today."
He thanked everyone for their "Hearts filled with so much love".
Delara Darabi recently attempted to kill herself at Tehran's Evin prison, but luckily she was quickly sent to a hospital and the doctors managed to save her life. She is now outside mortal danger (well, not exactly true, since she is awaiting execution). Her mother told the Tehran daily Etemaad that Delara is clinically depressed and only weighs 35 kilos.
$31,000 has been raised through online donations, $1000 in cheques while $5.000 has been raised in Iran, according to Nazanin's lawyer, Mr. Mostafaei, for a total of about $37.000. This means that we need about $8.000 before we have the $45.000 Nazanin needs to pay her bail and be released from prison. If you have not already done so, please consider a donation to help Nazanin.
Thank you for your support!
This interview with Nazanin was published in the Iranian newspaper Etemaad yesterday.
Translated by David Etebari
She has not seen her home for three years. She has not smelled the Persian New Year vegetable rice for three years, nor been embraced by her father at the turn of the new years. Young Nazanin has spent three years of her life imprisoned while only imagining how her family celebrated the Iranian New Year (March 21). On the other side of the bars, there has not been a sign of happiness in Nazanin's home either.
Her mother's share has only been anxiety and worries about her young daughter. Every night she had the same nightmare of how they were dragging her young daughter to the execution pole. But now everyone knows that with the recent court ruling, Nazanin can live and again think about her future. She can once more think about the good things in life.
Miseries were never ready to leave Nazanin alone. She was only 17 when she had to assume the responsibility of her 15-year-old niece. The memories of that bitter day will never be wiped of the eyes of this young girl. That day, while defending herself and her 15-year-old step-niece, she killed a young man. The dark and heavy shadow of miseries was not yet ready to leave Nazanin alone. Why has life never been accommodating to her? Why in addition to dealing with family poverty, she also had to try to heal the wounds of her niece? -
"Samayeh's body had been burnt with hot spoons. There were wound marks on her body. She only had me to listen to her. When Sameyeh would wake up disturbed in the middle of the nights, she would put her head on my chest to cry. But Sameyeh was more fortunate than I, because at least she could share her sorrow with someone and I could not. I had to endure all the hardships quietly. I could not go to school because my father was very poor. I could not wear nice clothes, because we had problem even feeding ourselves. I never understood that if I was not meant to have a share of this world why was I created? What was I being punished for? When can I taste the true meanings of living? Until when should I look thought the space between the prison bars in search of a sense of freedom? Until when?" Nazanin said.
Yesterday in a short interview she talked more about her hardships:
Where did you live?
I was born in Karaj in 1988 (1366 Iranian Calendar) and now I am resident of the township called Sohrabieh in Karaj. My father used to work for the Army but he is now retired. My mother is a housewife. I am the eldest of the family and I have 4 sisters, the smallest one is 12 years old. I have two brothers one is 15 and one is 3 years old.
How is your family's financial situation?
No one is working in our family. My siblings cannot go to school because we are too poor. We had a very hard upbringing and we live in a rental place.
What is your level of education?
I studied up to 3rd grade and I could not continue because of my family's financial situation.
What is your opinion of the verdict?
I am innocent. I didn't mean to kill Yousef. Now I am worried that I won't be able to pay "dieh" (blood money). My family does not have any money. The only way I will be able to pay "dieh" is through the help of others.
How are the conditions in prison?
I had a very hard time in prison, especially when I was in the previous prison (Rajayi shahr). These years I have spent in prison felt like ten years but I had to bear it.
Did you ever think you would be free from prison one day?
I never thought I would get out of prison, for that reason I just had to bear it. Freedom for me was an unattainable dream.
What is your plan after you are free?
I want to be with my family and I never want to leave them ever again. In the time I have been in prison I have realized how difficult it is to live without my family: my mother, brother, sisters and father. If I can I want to study and then work at the same time.
What is the meaning of life for you?
(cryings heavily she said:)
Life was so hard no one would ever be able to understand. I have had such a miserable time that you could not imagine. Some have everything and say, "life is difficult" and so us, without anything, what should we say? I have a lot of things to say but I want to keep it to myself and later I want to share it only with my mother.
What do you feel towards the family of the deceased?
I am very sad for the death of Youssef but even last Thursday I gave out "dates' in prison. (Note: An Islamic ritual for the deceased). Everyone was surprised with why I am doing this. I was not guilty for the death of Youssef, it was his own fault. If he didn't bother me I wouldn't have had anything to do with him.
Do you think after you are free you are going to have a normal life?
Perhaps when I am out of prison people will see me as a murderer. This really bothers me and whenever I think about it I cry.
According to this article from Amnesty International, there are now at least 23 child offenders on death row in Iran. Their names and age at the time of the offence (if known) are listed below:
1- Beniamin Rasouli, 17
2- Hossein Toranj, 17
3- Hossein Haghi, 17
4- Morteza Feizi, 16
5- Sa’eed Jazee, 17
6- Ali Mahin Torabi, 16
7- Milad Bakhtiari, 16
8- Farshad Sa’eedi, 17
9- Mostafa, 16
10- Mahmoud, 17
12- Hamid, 17
13- Sajjad, 17
14- Farzad, 15
15- Hossein Gharabaghloo, 16
16- Asghar, 16
17- Iman, 17
18- Ne’mat, 15
19- Mohammad Mousavi,
20- Delara Darabi, 17
21- Hamzeh S, 17
22- Shahram Pourmansouri, 17
23- Hedayat Niroumand, 15
Iran and Pakistan are the only countries known to have executed child offenders during the last year. Iran are a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which forbids executing someone who was under the age of 18 at the time of the offence. But instead, the Iranian authorities keep the youths locked up in jail until they have turned 18 before they execute them.
A legislation banning the death penalty for child offenders have been considered for several years, but it has not been passed. Considering the list of young men and women awaiting their death, this would be a very good matter to press the Iranian authorities on.