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Three juveniles sentenced to death

Wednesday, 8th September 2004

Tehran, Sep. 8 - Death sentences have been issued for three boys by the names of Ali M., Morteza F. and Milad B. who are presently in the Center for Reform and Education (Juvenile Prison). While all three of them were under 18 when they allegedly committed their crimes, their death sentences are going to be carried out soon as they turn 18.

Under Iran’s Islamic Law children are exempt from judicial punishment but the same legal system considers girls at the age of 10 and boys at 16 as adults and punishable.

Last week a court sentenced a 16-year-old boy to death on charges of drug trafficking. Feiz Mohammad, who is from neighboring Afghanistan, was tried and sentenced to death by judge Loqham Kia Pasha in Branch 122 of the Special Juvenile Court of Karaj, 40 kilometers west of the capital, Tehran.

Mohammad was accused of stealing seven kilograms of pure morphine from his employer, a ranch owner, and giving it to a group of Afghan immigrants distributing drugs. He faced no other charges.

On Aug. 15 the Iranian regime hanged a 16 year old year by the name of Atefeh Rajabi in the town of Neka in northern Iran.

Discrimination against religious minorities in IRAN

In order to fully understand the roots of the severe discriminations faced by religious minorities in Iran, it is important to be acquainted with the basic founding principles of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The first principle is that divine law is the unique source of legitimacy and political authority. The second one is that, while waiting for the reappearance of the Twelfth Imam, the depository and unique interpreter of divine law is the Spiritual Leader2. Together, these two principles form what is known as the concept of “Velayate Faghih” or “spiritual leadership” - the cornerstone of the Islamic Republic of Iran - according to which religious jurisprudence, best expressed through the Spiritual Leader, is given control over all aspects of civil and political society.

The peculiarity of the Islamic Republic of Iran is not the mere fact that Islam is the religion of the State (other States share the same feature) but rather the fact that the State itself is conceived as an institution and instrument of the divine will. In this system, which can best be described as a clerical oligarchy, there is an identification between divine truth and clerical authority. Article 110 of the Constitution lists all the powers granted to the Spiritual Leader, appointed by his peers for an unlimited duration. Among others, the Spiritual Leader exercises his control over the judiciary, the army, the police, the radio, the television, but also over the President and the Parliament, institutions elected by the people. Article 91 of the Constitution establishes a body known as the “Guardian Council” whose function is to examine the compatibility of all legislation enacted by the Islamic Consultative Assembly with “the criteria of Islam and the Constitution”3 and who can therefore veto any and all legislation. Half of the members of the Guardian Council are appointed by the Spiritual Leader and the other half are elected by the Islamic Consultative Assembly from among the Muslim jurists nominated by the Head of the Judicial Power (who is, himself, appointed by the Spiritual Leader). The Guardian council exercise a double control of any draft legislation, with two different procedures :

  conformity with the Constitution : all 12 elected members vote, a simple majority recognizes the constitutionality
  conformity with Islam : only the six religious leaders elected personally by the Spiritual leader vote, and a simple majority is required to declare the compatibility of a draft legislation with Islam. Consequently, four religious leaders may block all draft legislation enacted by the Parliament. The Guardian Council and the Supreme Leader therefore and in practice centralize all powers in Iran.

***** Article 12 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran states : “The official religion of Iran is Islam and the Twelver Ja’fari school, and this principle will remain eternally immutable. Other Islamic schools are to be accorded full respect, and their followers are free to act in accordance with their own jurisprudence in performing their religious rites. These schools enjoy official status in matters pertaining to religious education, affairs of personal status (marriage, divorce, inheritance, and wills) and related litigation in courts of law. [...]”

2 See Article 5 of the Constitution. 3 See Article 94 of the Constitution.

Although Sunni Muslims are accorded full respect by the Constitution, some Sunni groups have reported to be discriminated against by the government. Of particular concern is the refusal of the authorities to allow the construction of a mosque in Tehran for the Sunni Muslim community.

Article 13 of the Constitution gives a special status to three religious minorities named “recognized religious minorities” : “Zoroastrian, Jewish, and Christian Iranians are the only recognized religious minorities, who, within the limits of the law, are free to perform their religious rites and ceremonies, and to act according to their own canon in matters of personal affairs and religious education.”

Despite the existence of a specific status in the Constitution, these three recognized religious minorities face severe discrimination. First of all, they are being discriminated against by a number of legal provisions, which discriminate per se against all non-Muslims. These provisions will be exposed in detail in the first part of this report. Secondly, since Zoroastrians, Jews and Christians are only free to perform their religion “within the limits of the law”, the authorities have imposed in practice important limits to their right to exercise their religion, a right that is being continuously restricted and interfered with.

Conversion from Islam to one of the three recognized religions (apostasy) may still be punishable by death. The government has been particularly vigilant in recent years in curbing proselytising activities by evangelical Christians, whose services are conducted in Persian. Moreover, all three minorities complain of discrimination in the field of employment, report clear limitations imposed upon their upward mobility and complain of being treated like “second-class citizens”. As a consequence of Articles 12 and 13 of the Constitution, citizens of the Islamic Republic of Iran are officially divided into four categories : Muslims, Zoroastrians, Jews and Christians. Therefore, despite the fact that they constitute the largest religious minority in Iran, the Bahá’ís are a “non-recognized” religious minority without any legal existence, classified as “unprotected infidels” by the authorities. They are not even granted the theoretical right to perform their religion and are subject to systematic discrimination on the basis of their religious beliefs. The second part of this report will focus on the different types of discrimination faced by the Bahá’ís.

In the same manner, atheists do not have any recognized status. They must declare their faith in one of the four officially recognized religions in order to be able to claim a number of legal rights, such as the possibility to apply for the general examination to enter any university in Iran

 Courtesy of Iranfocus & FIDH.org

The doors of Cinema Rex, Abadan, was closed, locked, fuel used to arson the movie theatre and burned down, several hundreds of people died. Early crime of Khomeini and his brain-washed followers arson the theatre!

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