URGENT NEWS RELEASE: Iran to execute 19-year-old man on false charge of sodomy – LATEST PRESS RELEASE

Help us save Ehsan’s life – See sample letter below

London – 11 January 2011

A 19-year-old Iranian man is facing imminent execution on charges of attempting to rape another man (sodomy or lavat), even though the allegation was withdrawn by the accuser. There is no evidence that the accused youth is gay.

Ehsan was 17-years-old when he was arrested in late 2008 in Shiraz, in the province of Fars, after a man pressed charges against him and two other youths, alleging that they attempted to rape him.

Under torture that may have lasted over a month, only Ehsan, who is the youngest of the three accused, confessed to the charges. The Fourth Branch of the Criminal Court of Fars province, in Shiraz, found him guilty of lavat and sentenced him to hang. Ehsan has since withdrawn his ‘confession’, saying that it was extracted under torture.”

The execution of Ehsan is opposed by a coalition of Muslim organisations from across the world: the Association of British Muslims (AOBM), Faith Matters, Muslims for Progressive Values (MPV), USA and Canada, Canadian Muslim Union (CMB), Members of The Royal Order of Noor of Buayan, Canadian Council of Muslim Women (CCMW) and el-Tawhid Juma Circle.

“We appeal to the Supreme Leader and Chief Justice of Iran to show mercy by revoking the death sentence and releasing Ehsan. The evidence against Ehsan is weak. The accuser has withdrawn his allegations. It is unIslamic to sentence a person without 100% proof of guilt,” said Paul Salahuddin Armstrong, Co-Director of the Association of British Muslims.

Under Articles 108 to 113 of the Iranian penal code, lavat is proved either if a person confesses four times to having committed sodomy or by the testimony of four righteous men. Neither of these legal conditions have been met. Ehsan confessed only once and under torture. Four righteous men have not testified that they saw him commit sodomy.

Ehsan denied the charges in court in front of the judges. He mentioned that his confession was made under torture.

Furthermore, the alleged victim dropped all charges against all three boys before the trial. One out of the five judges pronounced him not guilty and asked for his immediate release. It appears that the four remaining judges used the clause “judge’s special knowledge”, or allowed the forced confession as sufficient to convict the boy to death.  Either way, it seems the trial was grossly flawed.

Ehsan was detained when he was 17, a adolescent, and kept in a juvenile detention centre up until a month ago. Since his execution order was approved by the Supreme Court (Branch Thirteen) he was transferred to Aadel Abaad Jail in Shiraz, where is awaiting execution, which could happen any day now.

Saghi Ghahraman, chair of the Iranian Queer Organisation (IRQO), told the Human Rights and Press Director of the Association Of British Muslims (AOBM), Dan Littauer:

“We should urgently ask the Iranian judicial system to show sympathy to a mere minor who has been falsely accused. Either forgive and release him or have another trial and investigate the evidence more thoroughly.”

“Ehsan’s family is terrified of government and security service reprisals if their family name appears in the media, and so is Ehsan’s lawyer. This is why we are not releasing Ehsan’s full name or the name of his lawyer,” said Ms Ghahraman.

“As has happened in several cases in the past, you don’t need to be gay or lesbian in Iran to be in danger of execution for homosexuality – a simple, unfounded accusation can be enough to see you sentenced to death,” added Dan Littauer, Human Rights and Press Director of AOBM.

The Muslim coalition oppose Ehsan’s execution on religious grounds, arguing that the Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) was known as Rahmatulil Alimeen – Mercy unto all the Worlds. Surely, it’s better to follow the example of the Prophet and be merciful…

Allah says in the Holy Qur’an, “…if anyone slays a human being unless it be [in punishment] for murder or for spreading corruption on earth – it shall be as though he had slain all mankind; whereas, if anyone saves a life, it shall be as though he had saved the lives of all mankind…” 5:32 (M. Asad)

This verse highlights the high priority Allah places on the sanctity of human life. Unless there is no doubt whatsoever of a person’s guilt of a very serious crime, no one is granted permission by Allah to take a human life.

In Ehsan’s case, the evidence is extremely tenuous. The Holy Qur’an strongly highlights the importance of justice and being merciful, as did Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib when he said,“God’s verdict is judicious and full of wisdom. His pleasure implies protection and mercy. He decides with knowledge and forgives with forbearance.”. (Sermon 159, Nahjul Balagha)

“And when those who believe in Our messages come unto thee, say: ‘Peace be upon you. Your Sustainer has willed upon Himself the law of grace and mercy – so that if any of you does a bad deed out of ignorance, and thereafter repents and lives righteously, He shall be [found] much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace.’” Holy Qur’an 6:54 (M. Asad)

Further information: Dan Littauer, Human Rights and Press Director of the Association of British Muslims, press@aobm.org M: +44 757 545 9633  W: +44 207 193 3125  Skype: aobritishmuslims


Sample Letter

[Your Name & Title]

[Street address]

[City, Post/ZIP Code]

[(County/State/Province)]

[Country]

[DATE]

[Recipient Name]

[Title]

[Organisation/Insititution]

[Street address]

[City, Post/ZIP Code]

[(County/State/Province)]

[Country]

Dear [Recipient Name]: Title [MP/MEP/SENATOR/CONGRESSPERSON]

Help save Ehsan life, a 19-year-old youth, who is to be executed in Iran, on false charge of sodomy:

As a constituent of yours, I am requesting your assistance to save the life of Ehsan, a 19 year-old Iranian.

When Ehsan was 17 years old, he and two other males were falsely accused of sexually assaulting another male.  There is no evidence that Ehsan or the other men are gay or that they committed sexual assault.  After being falsely charged and tortured, he signed a confession under duress.  Then Ehsan spent two years in the juvenile detention centre.  Based upon this confession, the Iranian Supreme Court sentenced Ehsan to death in 2009.

The other two men accused, but did not sign confessions, were released because they signed no confessions.  Prior to Ehsan’s trial, his accuser has recanted his earlier allegations.  He stated to the Iranian authorities that he had lied about the sexual assault, and he has also officially withdrawn his accusation of sexual assault.  Needless to say, his actions to rectify the situation has neither changed the Iranian Provincial court’s death sentence nor the execution order of the Supreme Court.  Now, Ehsan can be hanged at any time.

The Iranian Supreme Court, having approved Ehsan’s execution, Ehsan has been transferred to Aadel Abaad Jail in Shiraz, to await his fate.  Again, we stress the urgency of our efforts to stop this execution.

Ehsan’s case highlights the failings of the Iranian legal system. It further evidences that innocent people can be sentenced on false charges of homosexuality or any other charges of sexual impropriety without coerced evidence.

Ehsan’s best hope is for us to persuade the Chief Justice of Iran, Sadeq Larijani, to stay Ehsan’s execution.

I am asking you, as a parliamentarian, to lobby the Iranian Ambassador to [City].

Please also write to the [example: UK Foreign Secretary, William Hague, and to the EU Foreign Minister, Lady Ashton], urging them to press the Iranian Chief Justice to halt the execution order on Ehsan.

Your action could help save his life.

Thank you very much.

[Title, Your Name]

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