Sages of the New Covenant
Akmal Shaikh is British and bipolar. He wanted to celebrate world peace with a song on rabbits. He faces imminent execution in China instead. Please listen to his song and his story.
Update: On December 29th, 2009, Akmal was executed.
Please help us protest against his execution and pay tribute to his memory and disseminate this song as widely as you can or create your own.
Let's make Akmal's song become the hit Akmal was hoping for.
Mohammad Hassanzadeh was 16 years and 11 months old when he was executed June 10 at a Sanandaj prison in the Iranian province of Kurdistan. His hanging has put Iran, once again, in international spotlight for putting its minors on death row in spite of signing international treaties that categorically ban such an act. (GFX: Amnesty Int'l. reports Iran has executed at least 30 juvenile offenders since 1990. Seven of them were executed last year alone.)
ZahirJanmohamed, Advocacy Director,Amnesty International USA: "You have individuals who are 16, 17, and 18, who may have committed some petty theft or crime and they find themselves facing the death penalty. They are often young. They may have left their families. They don't have access to resources to have some sort of a legal team, etc. They are really in a nomad's legal land."
Hassanzadeh was a minor, convicted of a murder he had committed when he was 14 years and 11 months old, according to his lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei, who also represents 21 other minors on death row.
While Iranian authorities say he was not a minor at the time of execution, the daily Etemaad e Melli published a copy of Hassanzadeh's ID. It shows his date of birth and confirms he was indeed one month shy of 17 at the time of his execution.
The European parliament condemned Hassanzadeh's hanging, issuing this statement:
"Iran is known to have executed more juvenile offenders than any other country in the world, and according to reports, more than 100 individuals are on death row in Iran for crimes allegedly committed under the age of 18."
The European parliament also reminded Iran of its "direct contravention" of its"international obligations and commitments."That includes, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Iran is a signatory.
In the past two weeks, Iranian authorities have been denying the execution of their minors. Judiciary spokesman AlirezaJamshidi reacts to Hassanzadeh's execution:
"We don't have death penalty for the minors in Iran, and the person who was executed in Sanandaj (Mohammad Hassanzadeh) was above the age of 18 at the time of execution."
Janmohamed: "The term minor is a loaded term...In the Iranian context, they see it when somebody reaches the age of Islamic maturity: 9 to 12 for women, and 12 to 15 for males. At that age they're treated by the state as adults. We've often criticized Iran for its execution of minors and unfortunately there hasn't been much progress." (GFX:Juvenile execution also exists in: China, Congo, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and the United States.
On the same day of Hassanzadeh's hanging, eight men, convicted of murder and rape, were sent to the gallows in Tehran's Evin prison.
Two other juvenile offenders were given a one-month postponement to their execution. With the intervention of Iran's Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Shahroudi, they maybe able to settle "blood money" with the families of their victims.
Ray Krone was sentenced to death for a crime he did not commit. He has been proven innocent and exonerated, and now helps other "exonerees" share their stories of unjust sentences and close calls with state-sanctioned death penalties. Ray works for Witness to Innocence, which receives support from Atlantic, toward abolishing the death penalty throughout America. Atlantic is the largest funder of work to abolish the death penalty in the U.S. For more info see:
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Sages of the New Covenant