Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Is Iran's Hanging Tomorrow a Political Cover-up?

by Shabnam Assadollahi

The regime apparently told Reyhaneh during her interrogation that "This murder was set up." Is it possible that the regime needs to kill Reyhaneh to cover up a political murder that it committed?
We are also asking the Iranian judiciary what happened to the CD that had all the collected evidence in Reyhaneh Jabbari's case and why the Islamic Republic of Iran's prosecutor, Shamloo, destroyed it?
It would appear that this scheduled execution deserves at least a delay.

The Iranian regime stated that Reyhaneh Jabbari's mother visited with her, perhaps for the last time. Iranian Ministry of Justice officials have delivered a verdict of "Ghessas" ["an eye for an eye"] and are asking for the sentence of hanging to be carried out immediately.

According to news we just received from Iran, under Islamic Law (Sharia Law), only the family of the deceased victim has the power to stop the execution of the accused by forgiving them. Sadly, this was not the conclusion of the April 7th negotiations, attended by prominent Iranian artists, athletes, writers and intellectuals.

During the proceedings, a young man who was attending the meeting to sign the death sentence of the killer of his brother announced, while trembling and crying, that "after hearing all the attendees' speeches, he wished to forgive the killer and does not wish to have the accused executed."

After hearing such an emotional and humane announcement; two members of the Sarbandi family stated that they also did not agree with the execution of Reyhaneh, that they wished to discuss the matter further. As such, the family of the victim neither agreed nor disagreed with the execution at that time. In the meeting, however, it appeared that both families of the victim and the accused spoke of further review of Reyhaneh's ambiguous case.

The next day, however, on Tuesday, April 8, 2014, Reyhaneh's name was called on the prison loudspeaker requesting her presence to meet a visitor. When one's name is called on the loud speaker on a Tuesday it means the victim will be transferred to solitary confinement to await execution on Wednesday. Instead, she was met by a man from the judiciary office whose job is to comfort prisoners before execution. He told her that "her fate is in God's hands and that she must accept it."

This news shows that Reyhaneh's life is in grave danger; it is important to protest her execution even louder and stronger.

If inconsistency and ambiguity are shown, will the judiciary of the Islamic Republic dismiss this case? Is it a fact that a large, strong man died of only one stab wound to his shoulder from a blow delivered by Reyhaneh, who fled the scene immediately? What needs to be asked from the judges is: Who and what really killed Mr. Sarbandi and what was the evidence at the scene of the crime? We are also asking what happened to the CD that had all the collected evidence in the case and why the Islamic Republic of Iran's prosecutor, Shamloo, destroyed it.

It would appear that this scheduled execution deserves at least a delay.

Moreover, if Reyhaneh is executed, the family of the victim will never know the identity of the real killer. The regime apparently told Reyhaneh during her interrogation that "This murder was set up." Is Reyhaneh a scapegoat for a politically motivated murder by the regime? After all, did the victim not introduce himself as working for the Intelligence Service as well as being a physician? Is it possible that the regime needs to kill Reyhaneh to cover up a political murder that it committed?

What is clear is that in this particular case, nothing can be achieved by begging the family of victim for forgiveness. Why is the victim's family standing by the regime by agreeing to Reyhaneh's execution? Do they not want to know who the real killer was or why their loved one was killed? Are they afraid of being executed themselves? These questions might be dangerous to ask of a corrupt and unaccountable regime such as the Islamic Republic and its equally unaccountable judiciary system.

The issue of Reyhaneh's execution, in reality, does not solely depend on the family of the victim but instead on a regime that extracts confessions by torture, then executes the person based on that confession, and that ranks number one in the world for executions per capita — and all with impunity. The only way to save Reyhaneh is to put strong pressure on the government of Iran, which is ostensibly trying to appear legitimate and "moderate" in the eyes of the world.

We invite everyone to join us in this campaign at least to investigate the ambiguities in the case further. We ask for heavy international pressure on the government of Iran and to show both Khamenei and Rouhani that killing Reyhaneh Jabbari will have a high cost for the regime on the international stage. This campaign has grown enormously in just a few weeks; with your help, it will be even larger.

Campaign to save Reyhaneh Jabbari from execution

Translated by Banafsheh Zand

Reyhaneh Jabbari is 26 years old. At age 19 she was charged with the murder of Morteza Sarbandi, a doctor and a former employee of the Ministry of Intelligence and Surveillance of the Islamic Republic of Iran. She has spent the last seven years in prison. Jabbari is the daughter of our colleague, teacher and theater actress, Sholeh Pakravan.

Jabbari was a set designer; to that end, Sarbandi asked her to a meeting in his office to discuss an interior design project. Jabbari arrived at the meeting but after a few moments she realized that the location had no resemblance to an office. Sarbandi then offered her some fruit juice (forensic tests conducted by the police during the investigation proved that the juice contained a form of date-rape drug ["roofies"]). After locking the door, Sarbandi attacked Jabbari, who, out of fear, tried to defend herself by stabbing him in the shoulder. She then fled the premises. Sarbandi bled to death. Jabbari was tracked down and arrested.

An examination of the text messages exchanged between Reyhaneh Jabbari and Morteza Sarbandi prove Jabbari's account, which specified that prior to this incident, they had no relationship or connection, and that Sarbandi had been in touch with her on work and business related matters.

Reyhaneh Jabbari has spent long stretches in solitary confinement and has undergone brutal interrogations, endured physical abuse and has been pressured by her jailers falsely to confess to having murdered Sarbandi for political purposes. But she has continued to maintain that she acted in self-defense.

Should Jabbari confess to a preconceived political murder? All the documents clearly prove that she did in fact act in self-defense. How, then, based on all this evidence can this young girl be executed?

Based on Jabbari's defense attorney and the "victim's" family, the case is filled with ambiguities. Based on what is it logical or rational for a judge to hand down a sentence of execution as a form of retribution?


The court has perceived Jabbari's self-defense as murder with malice aforethought and has sentenced her to execution by hanging. We the below signatories of this statement, demand the immediate annulment of Jabbari's execution and call for her case to be re-opened and re-examined by a fair and proper court of law. We stand shoulder to shoulder and steadfast with Reyhaneh and her family and lend our voices to a member of our cultural and artistic community; one of our own, who is enduring a crisis and has our undying support.

  • Farshad Arya -- Filmmaker
  • Farshid Aryan -- Theater Actor and Legal Scholar
  • Gholam Al-Bouyeh -- Playwright and Theater Director
  • Asgar Ahaneen -- Poet
  • Massoud Assadollahi -- Actor, Director, Producer
  • Mahmoud Oskouie -- Cinematographer/Videographer
  • Maryam Afshari -- Producer
  • Kourosh Afshar-Panah -- Actor, Filmmaker
  • Hossein Afsahi -- Writer, Director, Producer
  • Saied Oveissi -- Actor
  • Khosrow Bagherpour -- Poet, Writer
  • Abbass Bakhtiari -- Managing Director of Pouya Cultural Center, Musician
  • Seema Bakhtiar -- Actor
  • Majeed Beheshti -- Actor, Director
  • Niloofar Bayzaie -- Theater Director, Researcher
  • Farivar Tabrizi
  • Mansour Tehrani -- Composer, Filmmaker
  • Hameed-Reza Javedan -- Actor, Director
  • Mohammad Jalali -- Poet, Writer, Theater Actor
  • Iraj Jannati-Ataei -- Theater Director, Lyricist
  • Shayda Jahan-Been -- Journalist
  • Banafsheh Pour'Zand -- Researcher, Journalist, Filmmaker
  • Hadi Khorsand -- Poet, Satirist
  • Hameed Daneshvar -- Actor, Director
  • Rasheed Davari -- Director
  • Gorafareed -- Raconteur, Cultural Heritage Researcher
  • Geetee Darshkian -- Theater Scholar
  • Hossein Daryanee -- Theater Actor
  • Davoud Rahimee -- Writer, Theater Actor
  • Ghazi Reebhavee -- Children's Writer, Playwright, Theater Actor/Director
  • Vonsha Roodbaraki -- Painter
  • Sadreddin Zahed -- Theater Actor/Director
  • Nasser Zeraatee -- Writer
  • Saharvash -- Singer, Composer
  • Helia Salahshour -- Dancer, Theater Actress
  • Parvaneh Soltani -- Director, Actress, Acting Coach
  • Ali Sharifian -- Journalist, Actor, Theater Director
  • Nikki Sheikh -- Actor
  • Darioush Shiravani -- Filmmaker
  • Lily Shams -- Sculptor, Painter, Designer, Make-up Artist
  • Neda Shahrivar -- Actress
  • Mohammad Safarian -- TV Director
  • Mohamma-Ali Talebi -- Director
  • Nader Fawm -- Actor
  • Azar Fakhr -- Actress
  • Soosan Farrokh-Nia -- Actress, Theater Director
  • Soodabeh Farrokh-Nia -- Actress, Theater Director
  • Reza Ghassemi -- Writer
  • Ebi Ghazi-Zadeh -- Cinematographer/Videographer
  • Tara Koocheh-Radis -- Visual Artist
  • Elnaz Kian -- Writer
  • Faati Mohammadi -- Actress, Theater Director
  • Shahrokh Meshkeen-Ghalam -- Dancer, Actor, Director
  • Hossein Maheeni -- Filmmaker, Managing Director of the Intentional Festival of Filmmakers in Exile
  • Farzi Naderi -- TV Director
  • Manouchehr Naamvar-Azad -- Actor, Director
  • Shaheen Najafi -- Composer, Lyricist, Singer
  • Nasser Najafi -- Writer, Director, Researcher
  • Arman Najm -- Film Director, Producer
  • Jameeleh Nedayee -- Director
  • Baseer Naseebi -- Free Cinema
  • Kamran Nozad -- Actor
  • Ramin Yazdani -- Filmmaker

We will continue to gather signatures. Please support us by emailing:

Shabnam Assadollahi


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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