Thursday, 15 October 2009

Iran executes a young man and others arrested in demonstrations in Iran on the Annual World Day Against the Death Penalty

The current Iranian regime has long been one of the worst perpetrators of human rights abuse in the world, using the death penalty as a means of suppressing dissent amongst the Iranian population. In 2008 alone, according to Amnesty International the Iranian regime executed at least 346 people, although due to the difficulty in obtaining information within Iran it is believed that this figure could in fact be considerably higher. Iran also remains one of the only countries that continue to use the death penalty against minors, while within Iran’s notorious prisons the use of torture is vast.

Throughout the 30 year rule of this dictatorial regime, it has used the death penalty and torture to suppress the democratic demands of the Iranian people. This has been seen all too clearly throughout recent months as Iranians have gathered in the streets of Iran’s major cities to demand freedom and democracy.

Having killed and beaten protesters in the streets, members of Iran’s notorious Bassij force arrested thousands. The protesters were then taken to prisons without any form of trial or legal representation and have ever since been tortured and horrifically raped. Many of those who were taken prisoner have not been heard of since, with the distinct possibility that a number have already been killed under torture.

To date, one Iranian protester has been sentenced to death an action that it is believed will pave the way for many more executions of those involved in the recent democratic movement protests in Iran.

However, the fear of the death penalty or torture in Iran’s notorious prisons has not broken the resolve of the Iranian people and in fact their demands for democracy and freedom have grown ever more forceful in recent months. It is for this reason that support for Camp Ashraf and what the individuals based there represent is of such importance.

Home to 3,500 Iranian refugees forced to flee Iran for fear of suppression, Camp Ashraf has become the embodiment of the Iranian people’s struggle for democracy. Long seen as a beacon of hope for the Iranian people, the Iranian regime has for many years set its sights on the destruction of the camp and the return of its residents to Iran.

The recent violent attack on Camp Ashraf was one of a number of plots the Iranian regime has used to kill and displace these Iranian refugees. However, the 3,500 residents, 1,000 of whom are women have remained steadfast in their demands for democracy and freedom for their nation.

Now, inspired by the bravery of the Camp Ashraf residents the people of Iran are rising up against tyranny and suppression. We must all support the cause of the Camp Ashraf residents not only because their human rights must be protected under international law, but further to support an entire nation’s struggle for democracy.

For as long as Camp Ashraf stands, so shall the people of Iran and an Iran free of the death penalty will soon become a reality rather than a distant dream.

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