Gay Middle East and OutRage! are issuing an urgent appeal to save the life of 18 year old Iranian, Ebrahim Hamidi, who was sentenced to death on 21 June 2010 for a vague, unspecified sexual assault on a male. He is now awaiting hanging, despite his accuser admitting that he lied, and withdrawing his accusation of assault.
In addition, the Supreme Court of Iran has twice rejected the provincial court's guilty verdict and death sentence and ordered a re-examination of the case. This ruling has been ignored by the local judiciary in East Azerbaijan province.
Ebrahim's execution could take place at any time.
He now has no legal representation. His lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaei, has been forced into hiding after a warrant for his arrest was issued. The Iranian authorities are furious over over Mostafaei's highly publicised efforts to stop the stoning to death of Sakineh Ashtiani on charges of adultery.
"There is no evidence that Hamidi is gay or that he committed any crime. This execution must be stopped. We need your help," said Dan Littauer, editor of Gay Middle East.
"Ebrahim's case shows the flaws and failings of the Iranian legal system. It is further evidence that innocent people are sentenced on false charges of homosexuality," added Peter Tatchell of the London-based LGBTI human rights group OutRage!
"The claims of the Iranian authorities cannot be trusted. Our best hope is to persuade the Chief Justice of Iran, Sadeq Larijani, to veto Ebrahim's execution.
"Wherever you live, get your MP/Congressperson/Deputy and Foreign Minister to lobby the Iranian Chief Justice.
"An international campaign can help stop Ebrahim's execution, just as a similar global campaign has, so far, halted the stoning to death of Sakineh Ashtiani.
If you live in the UK:
"We urge people to ask their MP and MEPs to lobby the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, and the Iranian Ambassador to London.
"Letters from MPs and MEPs will have maximum influence and impact. Please urge your MP and MEPs write letters of protest urgently.
"I call on William Hague and David Cameron to make representations to the Chief Justice of Iran to halt Hamidi's execution, annul the death sentence and order a re-trial," said Mr Tatchell.
To email your MP and MEP, go to this website:
Include the briefing below in your email to your MP and MEP.
See Dan Littauer's three articles and reports on the Hamidi case below:
A youth is facing imminent execution in Iran based on a mere false accusation
By Dan Littauer, Editor, Gay Middle East, and Joshua Hunt, contributing journalist.
14 July 2010
You don't even need to be gay or lesbian in Iran to be in mortal danger - a simple, unfounded accusation can be enough to see you sentenced to death. On the 8th of July 2010, the famous Iranian human rights lawyer, Mohammad Mostafai, announced in a press release that three of his four clients were cleared of sodomy charges, but one, an 18 year old youth named Ebrahim Hamidi, was sentenced to be executed.
Hamidi was originally sentenced to death two years ago, at the age of 16, for an alleged attempted sexual assault on a male. The execution sentence was handed down by Branch 2 of the Criminal Court in East Azerbaijan province on 20 July 2008.
Following a fight in the countryside outside the Iranian city of Tabriz, with members of a family against which his own family had been feuding for some time, Hamidi was picked up with three friends by the police. The four were told that one of the men from the other family with whom the four were fighting had accused them of an attempted sexual assault. The "testimony" the accuser gave to support this claim was that during the fight his own trousers were 20cm below his wiastline, implying that the four attempted to strip him naked and assault him.
The four accused were arrested based on this allegation and held in Haris Detention Centre for three days. During police interrogations they were tortured and pressured to confess to the crime.
Ebrahim Hamidi signed his confession sheet to stop his torture: he was hanged from his legs and badly beaten. According to his lawyer, and the three friends who witnessed the beatings, he confessed to a crime he did not commit. All four were tried in two consecutive provincial criminal courts and were sentenced to execution.
During their third trial, three of the accused were cleared of all charges but Ebrahim Hamidi was again sentenced to execution.
He was sentenced to die despite the fact that two of the five judges at the hearing on 21 June this year ruled that none of the four accused were guilty of the sexual assault allegations.
Even more astounding, the youth who originally accused the four men of sexual assault has since withdrawn his accusation. On 7 July 2010, he gave recorded testimony to the police that his accusation was false and was given under pressure from his parents. In other words, the accuser admitted that he was lying due to parental pressure.
On top of this, the guilty verdict and execution order was rejected twice by the Supreme Court of Iran - once by Branch 17 and once by Branch 42 - because of shortcomings in the judicial investigation. It ordered a re-examination of the case. Yet the provincial court still insists on executing Ebrahim.
In his report Mr. Mostafaei wrote: "I have asserted in the past that many of execution cases I took on were flawed to the point that an execution verdict couldn't possibly be issued. This case too, is one of those cases where an innocent person is ordered to be executed."
Gay Middle East (GME) has interviewed Saghi Ghahraman, CEO of the Canadian-based Iranian Queer Organization (IRQO) about this case. Ms. Ghahraman stated that: "execution is an inhumane and brutal punishment." She added that this "specific case which is tied, for no reason, to homosexuality", is completely without foundation and unjust. To Ghahraman, the harsh attitudes towards homosexuality are enough to have any person, whether straight or gay, put to death. This law is not only wrong in condemning to death innocent people but damages families and severely scars whole communities. Ghahraman is deeply alarmed by the execution order for Ebrahim Hamidi. She reiterates that Hamidi is not even "accused of homosexuality, but of sexual harassment based on a false accusation, without any evidence," by a mere decision of a judge.
To GME this appears as a face saving measure of a flawed judicial procedure, which surely should be repealed by the judiciary of Iran. GME joined IRQO in requesting the judiciary of Iran to annul the verdict. Furthermore, a repeal of the sodomy laws, which are both inadequate and unjust, would benefit Iran as a whole and give it much esteem in the eyes of the international community.
IRQO has reported the case to the Iranian Committee for Human Rights Reporters and to the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.
GME has also referred this case to Amnesty International.
Mostafai's statement: http://www.modafe.com/
Committee for Human Rights Reporters: http://chrr.biz/spip.php?