In an act that Amnesty International’s Deputy Director referred to as “another bloody stain on Iran’s human rights record,” 26-year-old Iranian woman Reyhaneh Jabbari was hanged at the gallows at dawn, after being found guilty of premeditated murder.
There was a worldwide plea for mercy for Jabbari as the man she killed had attempted to rape her. Jabbari was found guilty in 2009, but it wasn’t until this week that Iran carried out her sentence, after the verdict against her was upheld by Iran’s Supreme Court.
Earlier in October, Justice Minister Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi had indicated that mercy might be granted, saying that a “good ending” for Jabbari was in sight. But apparently, that “good ending” hinged upon the family of the man whom Jabarri killed accepting blood money.
They refused to do so.
Before the sentence was carried out, Jabbari wrote her mother, Sholeh Pakravan. The letter is heartbreaking – bitter at times, with a sense that Jabbari feels betrayed by the country her mother taught her to love. At one point, it seems as if Jabbari’s words encapsulate the experience of many Iranian women as she writes, “this country that you planted its love in me never wanted me.”
At other times, Reyhaneh Jabbari seems ashamed, both for killing the man who attempted to rape her, and for not allowing the man to kill her the night he tried to rape her. She tells her mother, “The world allowed me to live for 19 years. That ominous night it was I that should have been killed. My body would have been thrown in some corner of the city, and after a few days, the police would have taken you to the coroner’s office to identify my body and there you would also learn that I had been raped as well. The murderer would have never been found since we don’t have their wealth and their power. Then you would have continued your life suffering and ashamed, and a few years later you would have died of this suffering and that would have been that.”
And Jabbari’s letter also carries within it both resignation to her fate and a furious sense of justice as she tells her mother, “The world did not love us. It did not want my fate. And now I am giving in to it and embrace the death. Because in the court of God I will charge the inspectors, I will charge inspector Shamlou, I will charge judge, and the judges of country’s Supreme Court that beat me up when I was awake and did not refrain from harassing me.”
But the purpose of Reyhaneh Jabbari’s letter was to ask one last request from her mother before she died – that her mother allow Jabbari’s organs to be donated to people in need.
“My kind mother, dear Sholeh, the one more dear to me than my life, I don’t want to rot under the soil. I don’t want my eye or my young heart to turn into dust. Beg so that it is arranged that as soon as I am hanged my heart, kidney, eye, bones and anything that can be transplanted be taken away from my body and given to someone who needs them as a gift. I don’t want the recipient to know my name, buy me a bouquet, or even pray for me.”
“I am telling you from the bottom of my heart that I don’t want to have a grave for you to come and mourn there and suffer. I don’t want you to wear black clothing for me. Do your best to forget my difficult days. Give me to the wind to take away.”
Sholeh Pakravan, Jabbari’s mother, was only allowed an hour to see her daughter in the week before she was hanged and was only notified of her daughter’s imminent execution scant hours before it occurred.
Jabbari ended her letter to her mother with words that resonate with faith, with confidence and with bravery and an utter assurance in some sort of justice, if not in this world, then in the next…as well as the longing any scared young woman must feel; the want of her mother at her time of greatest need.
“Dear soft-hearted Sholeh, in the other world it is you and me who are the accusers and others who are the accused. Let’s see what God wants. I wanted to embrace you until I die. I love you.”
[Image via ITV News]