Too Young to Die
For over thirty five years, the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Judiciary has treated boys and girls in their teens as adults and executed them for crimes they allegedly committed before the age of 18, It has done so, regardless of whether they could live up to the moral and psychological components of criminal responsibility. As a result thousands of individuals below the age of 18 have been prosecuted as adults and at a minimum seven hundred executed. This page is dedicated to their memory.
The stories you read here come from Omid ("hope" in Persian), a silent, virtual city where victims of persecution have found a common life in memory. Omid's citizens come from various social backgrounds, nationalities, and religions; they hold diverse opinions and ideologies. Despite differences, they are all united in Omid by their natural rights and common humanity.
Atefeh Sahaleh Rajabi…
In Neka, a father sought fairness for his daughter of 16. Reports of mental incompetence were introduced. The court, however, perceived only “acts incompatible with chastity.”
An acquaintance explained that at the age of 14, Mr. Ja'farian's negligence had led to the death of a friend. There was no malice in his act.
Executing Children is a Crime
The execution of children is forbidden under international law. The United Nations’ Convention on Civil and Political Rights, as well as the Convention on the Rights of the Child --both of which Iran has ratified-- expressly prohibit the application of capital punishment of anybody under 18 years old.
(a) No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for offences committed by persons below eighteen years of age;
(b) No child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily. The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time;
(c) Every child deprived of liberty shall be treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person, and in a manner which takes into account the needs of persons of his or her age…;
(d) Every child deprived of his or her liberty shall have the right to prompt access to legal and other appropriate assistance...
Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 37
Omid’s stories and the testimonies of young men and women who lived their childhood on death row bear witness to years-long torments and suffering of thousands of teenagers tried and sentenced as adults. They appeal to our humanity and our common sense.
We can make a difference by simply reading and sharing their stories to make sure that victims are not invisible. We can tell Iranian officials that children, regardless of where they live, are not adults and thus should not be sentenced to death; that by reforming the law, they will not only put an end to the ordeal of hundreds of families and adhere to their international legal commitments but they will also uphold minimum standards of decency.
Letter from Mohammad: