Save Reza From Execution!
His Excellency Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations; Her Excellency Ms. Louise Arbour, The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, The Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ayatollah Khamenei, and The Head of the Judiciary
More Info at:
In direct violation of international laws and established human rights standards, the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) has condemned yet another minor to death by public hanging.
Reza Alinejad is in imminent risk of execution by hanging for accidentally killing a man in self-defense when he was only 17 years old. Based on the evidence presented, as well as the reasons explained below, we hereby object vehemently to Rezas death sentence and declare that the sentence of death issued in this case not only flies in the face of international laws but that it violates established norms of civilized societies.
In December 2002, when Reza was only 17 years old, he, along his friend Hadi, was visiting a market where the two boys had purchased and were eating some food when a group of men approached them and began to verbally assault and abuse the two teenagers. The boys were soon engaged in a verbal altercation with the men when one of the attackers, Ismaeel, pulled out a weapon and began to beat both Reza and Hadi with it. Reza, who, at this point was terrified of what was happening, felt that he needed to defend himself and his friend from the devastating blows. In an attempt to scare and fend off his attackers, Reza pulled out a pocket knife and, while covering his face and eyes from the blows with his left hand, he attempted to ward off his attackers with the knife in his right hand. As Reza struggled with his attackers in this manner, he accidentally stabbed Ismaeel with the knife. The stabbing ultimately led to Ismaeels death and Reza was arrested on charges of murder and imprisoned accordingly.
During the initial investigation of this case, certain exculpatory evidence was established for the record, including the testimony of the decedents own friend, Mohammad, who was present when the aforementioned altercation took place. Mohammad admitted that he and Ismaeel had in fact started the fight and had, without provocation, attacked the two teenagers with their weapons. He conceded that their actions were so aggressive that he could indeed understand why the two boys had acted as they had in self-defense. According to Mohammads own account, the teenagers did not have any way of escaping as they were surrounded and overpowered. In fact, the teenagers suffered serious injuries during the attack and had to be hospitalized.
Another eyewitness -- who was not a participant in the altercation -- confirmed Mohammads account of the events. His testimony left no doubt about the fact that Reza was not only engaged in self-defense during the altercation, but that he had no choice but to use the type of force that he used in order to save his own life as well as that of his young friend.
Despite overwhelming evidence establishing that young Reza was acting in self-defense when he stabbed Ismaeel, as well as evidence proving that Reza had not intended nor planned to kill Ismaeel, and despite the fact that Reza was a minor at the time of the incident, a criminal court near city of Shiraz sentenced Reza to death by public hanging.
On appeal, the court approved this ruling, opining that: (a) Reza should have retreated from the scene of the fight; and (b) he did not have to use a knife to defend himself. The appellate courts ruling defies the evidence in this case, which clearly establish that neither Reza nor Hadi had any way of escaping the scene of the fight and that Reza would have been beaten to death with a deadly weapon had he not attempted to ward off his attackers. Without granting a full review of the case, Irans Supreme Court upheld Rezas death sentence.
The Supreme Courts ruling, as well as those of the lower courts before it, is in direct violation of international law, as well as established norms of civilized societies. As explained previously, at the time of the incident in question, Reza was a minor. Article 37 of the Covenant on the Right of the Child, to which the Islamic Republic of Iran is a signatory, prohibits the execution of individuals for acts or crimes committed before the age of majority. Because the IRI has accepted to abide by the governing international rules and treaties, it is prohibited from sentencing Reza to death for acting in self-defense when he was only 17 years old. The fact that Reza has reached the age of majority during his imprisonment is irrelevant. The controlling date for the purposes of this international law is the date when the incident at issue occurred. In this case, the incident occurred when Reza was a teenager and a minor. As such, Rezas impending execution is in direct violation of international law. Additionally, such an execution would establish the IRIs disregard for its obligations to the international community as well as to universal principles of human rights.
submit that the execution order of Reza Alinejad is unjust and illegal and must be vacated immediately;
request that an order of clemency be issued in this case and that Reza be released from prison as his actions were clearly dictated by the natural right of every human to defend him/herself from serious physical injury or death; and
strongly condemn the IRI for its flagrant violations of international human rights laws and standards.