Iran hangs Zahra Bahrami

Note What follows is my initial mailing on Zahra Bahrami’s execution. For a revised version of this mailing, which includes both an introduction and an afterword, see  No Man Is An Island

Dear Friends,

In the early morning hours of Saturday, January 29th, the murderously barbaric Iranian regime hanged my friend, and my friend Jane’s friend, Zahra Bahrami. Her crime? To be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Even though the (ugh!) Islamic Republic of Iran would like for the world to believe otherwise. Zahra was 46 years old and a dual Dutch-Iranian national. Only the Iranian government refused to recognize her Dutch citizenship and therefore consistently denied Dutch consular officials in Tehran any access to her. And today they killed her.

Zahra, formerly a student of Indian classical music at the Rotterdam Conservatory and a professional belly dancer, had traveled to Iran more than a year ago to be with her daughter, who was undergoing chemotherapy. Foolishly perhaps, she (like thousands of others) participated in one of the Ashura demonstrations that were held on December 27th 2009 to protest the disputed presidential elections in June.

Zahra, who has never belonged to any political organization (contrary to another false claim being made by the regime), was arrested and kept in solitary confinement until the moment of her death. During the entire time she was repeatedly beaten and tortured. And was once forced to make a public confession, which she later retracted. A few months ago her Iranian lawyer, a lady well in the regime’s sights for handling other human-rights cases, was also imprisoned. While just the other day the Dutch foreign ministry appointed two attorneys from the Netherlands to ‘represent’ Zahra, a much-belated move that may well have sealed her fate. For Zahra had first been tried and sentenced to die not on the political charges (that trial was still meant to happen) but for possessing, smuggling and selling narcotics. Drugs which had clearly been planted (as though they would need to plant them: they could simply say she had them and that would be that).

Zahra did not even use drugs, any drugs, and was certainly not a smuggler. But by trying her for this, the Iranian regime hoped (successfully, it appears) to blindside Western governments, and the Dutch in particular, as to their real motivations by saying this was all part of a ‘war on drugs.’

TEHRAN [says]…it is holding a Dutch-Iranian woman caught with drugs, state news agency IRNA reported, after the Netherlands sought details about a dual citizen reportedly on death row. “One of the cases that Western countries use to pressure the Islamic republic is the case of a woman named Zahra Bahrami, who holds European passports as well as an Iranian passport,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said, quoted by IRNA. “(Bahrami) has been arrested by the police for carrying over 1kg of narcotics,” Mr Mehmanparast said without elaborating on the sentence or her nationality. He dismissed foreign interference in the case, in comments apparently aimed at the Netherlands which sought clarification…about a Dutch-Iranian woman in her 40s reportedly sentenced to death. “They are not allowed to interfere in our internal affairs and our judiciary is quite independent,” said Mr Mehmanparast. AFP

And further: “It is expected from the western countries to appreciate Iran’s efforts to combat drug trafficking and even cooperate accordingly,” he said. “Unfortunately, however, we are witnessing their support for Zahra Bahrami and they have even called for her release,” he added. “The West should realize that if the issue of combating drug trafficking is not taken seriously, it will directly affect their own youth who will be entrapped by drug traffickers,” the Foreign Ministry spokesman said. HSH/MMN

I have lived in Iran. And twice worked there as a journalist. That was when the Shah was in charge. The same Shah who had a rather nasty secret police force called SAVAK. (But hey, aren’t all secret police everywhere nasty? They damn sure are!) Yet unless you were actively involved in trying to overthrow the Shah, SAVAK pretty much (well…) left you alone. The bastards running the show in Iran nowadays don’t leave anyone alone. They call themselves ‘men of God’ but they are evil through and through. Quite as the Ayatollah Khomeini was evil. I shall write more about Iran and my extended stays there in due course. And about the Shah. At present suffice it to say that the power-wielding mullahs and their traitorous (to the Iranian people) cohorts must go. As for how to get rid of them, I do not know. Except that it must come from within. As it came from within in Tunisia and is coming from within in Egypt. And hopefully will come from within in numerous other nations ruled by equally brutal and corrupt regimes.

Capital punishment is abhorrent, period. And to say it is more abhorrent in Zahra’s case is missing the point. Zahra’s case is a tragedy because she never should have been arrested, should not have been imprisoned, ought not to have been tortured, and certainly not sentenced to death and hanged. But Zahra is not alone. Iran executes people day in and day out. As does China. As does the bloody United States. And too many other countries. In the European Union it is banned. Even Russia abolished the death penalty. The rest must follow suit. Without any exceptions and in all circumstances. It is wrong. It would have been wrong for Hitler (how guilty can you get!), it was wrong for Eichmann (banality incarnate), and it sure as hell was wrong for Zahra Bahrami. Who also happened to be innocent. And thus becomes a kind of martyr. For Iran. For her people.

Oh yes, I have actually witnessed an execution. A public execution. By firing squad. In Thailand. More on that, too. Anon.

To find out more about Zahra, you can google her name. Dozens and dozens of links will pop up. (On her Dutch passport the first name was spelt Sahra, which is what the BBC is using.) Her surname had been Mehrabi, until the Dutch government allowed her to change it. That when Zahra proved to their satisfaction that she was on an Iranian death list. Her brother was executed for having a photograph of the Shah in his possession! Her elder daughter committed suicide. She is survived by a younger daughter and a 22-year old son.

RIP Zahra Bahrami. What a terrible way to die. At the blood-stained hands of a horrible regime that is as close to pure evil as any regime possibly can get.

Thank you for reading this, EDDIE

One of countless Zahra news links:

Execution Poem by Eddie Woods

Zahra playing tanpura and singing (Amsterdam, 2005). Photo © by Eddie Woods

Zahra Bahrami and Brian (Amsterdam). Photo © by Eddie Woods

Zahra on her 40th birthday. Photo © by Eddie Woods