Monday, December 10, 2007
Iranian child prisoner on death row's artwork
On Sunday, December 09, 2007, Reza Alinejad's older brother, Ali, contacted human rights lawyer, Lily Mazahery, via email and included photos of four pieces of artwork that Reza has produced from prison. In these pieces, Reza conveys his pain as a child prisoner on death row, and questions the justice system that has condemned him to death for accidentally killing a man in self-defense.
In December 2002, when Reza was only 17 years old, he and his friend were physically attacked -- without provocation ¡V by a group of men, one of whom was carrying deadly weapons. The boys were severely beaten and injured by their attackers. In an attempt to fend off his attackers and protect himself and his friend, Reza pulled out a pocket knife, and tried to ward off the attackers. As Reza struggled with his attackers in this manner, he accidentally stabbed one of them with the knife, ultimately resulting in the man's death.
Despite testimony from eyewitnesses stating that Reza was acting in self defense and that the stabbing was purely accidental, a judge in Iran's Fars province found the teenager guilty of murder, and sentenced him to death by hanging.
However, the court's ruling is in violation of international laws and standards, including the Covenant on the Right of the Child (CRC), to which the Islamic Republic of Iran is a signatory. The CRC expressly prohibits the execution of individuals for acts or crimes committed before the age of majority. Because the IRI has accepted to abide by the governing international rules and treaties, it is prohibited from sentencing Reza to death for acting in self-defense when he was only 17 years old.
With the assistance of Reza's family, and Mohamad Mostafaei, one of the attorneys representing Reza in Iran, human rights lawyer, Lily Mazahery, initiated an international campaign to save Reza from execution. The campaign includes an internet-based petition that demands commutation of Reza's sentence and describes the circumstances of the case.
Last week, in a separate email to Ms. Mazahery, the Alinejad family announced that Iran's head of judiciary, Ayatollah Shahroudi, has ordered mediation between the Alinejad family and that of the decedent. If the decedent's family agrees to accept a certain sum of "blood money" (Diyeh) from the Alinejads, Reza will be able to escape execution and will return to his family to begin a new life away from the horrors of prison.
Additional information about Reza Alinejad may be found on a website set up by Reza's family and friends: www.HelpReza.com
Click HERE to view Reza's other artwork from prison.
Amnesty International Urgent Action Alert for Reza Alinejad
HelpReza Blog (Farsi and English)
Transcript of Mino Hemati's Interview with Dr. Alinejad, Reza's father
Kamangir's entry on the recent execution of a child prisoner