Killing Kids

Tehran Bureau writes:

Iran-hangingsIran's post-election turmoil and the ensuing human rights crisis entered a new phase this week,  after authorities announced death sentences for four defendants following the mass trials held for more than a hundred people accused of fomenting unrest and challenging the election results. It has raised the specter of further political executions in Iran. Most ominously, the death sentences were announced on October 10th, the International Day Against the Death Penalty. On the same day, Iran put to death Behnoud Shojaii, a juvenile offender, continuing Iran's distinction as the only country to execute juvenile offenders since 2008. The harsh sentences signaled a determination by the Revolutionary Guard commanders and hard-line supporters of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to extend their consolidation of power to the judicial branch.

The four defendants sentenced to death are not guilty of any violent actions and their indictments clearly state that the Intelligence Ministry arrested them "before they could engage in any action." Even under the existing laws, they could not be sentenced to death in fair trials. However, by using them as a front in a public relations ploy to justify death sentences in post-election trials, the government is pursuing two goals. First, the government is aiming to instill fear among reform-oriented Iranians, and raising the cost of participation in further protests, by signaling its power and determination to apply the death penalty at will. The second intent is to lay the groundwork for further political executions by desensitizing the broader population to state-sponsored violence.

Some details on the victim:

Behnoud Shojai, who was due to be hanged today, was just 17 when he stabbed a a boy with a shard of glass three years ago and sentenced to death. But charity Amnesty International say the killing was in self defence after Shojai, now 20, intervened to stop a fight between a friend and another boy and was threatened with a knife. And on Sunday the EU's presidency urged Iran "to immediately halt the execution and of all other juvenile offenders on death row."It's believed that the fundamentalist state has executed at least 28 child offenders since 1990 and that at least 86 are currently on death row.

The Dish's previous coverage of this here.