Iran’s iron-fisted rulers ban familes from rallying for the condemned

A few days ago, on April 9, Tehran witnessed a painful day for the family members of death row inmates, especially the mothers, whose beloved children are under imminent threat of execution in Iran's prisons.

The families held a protest in front of the parliament in Tehran on Sunday, demanding that the death verdicts against their loved ones be canceled and a law passed banning all executions in Iran, according to a wire posted by the "Human Rights Center of 'No' to Prison, 'No' to Execution."

The presence of women and mothers was notable at this rally.  During the past 38 years, mothers have been at the forefront of challenging the silence and terror imposed by the tyrannical rule of the ayatollahs, their crackdown forces, and their secret agents of the regime.  The mothers held  pictures of their sons or daughters with their names on them.  "We pray for those on death row, that their lives may be spared," one mother said, as she burst in tears.

Another courageous mother showed the letter of her son to the others, which read: "My dear mother, I hope you always remember me, you will see my smile through the happiness of the face of people near soon. I sacrificed myself, such a death is glorious, and you must be proud of it. Never cry for me."

It was one of thousands of horrific stories, given the mullahs' willingness to engage in summary executions, for political and non-political crimes.

"Thousands of women in Iran tried to find their disappeared or those on death row and tried a variety of methods to pressure the government to release information about them and stop their execution," one woman at the rally said.  "We are standing with families who have had their loved ones put on death row," another women activist said.

As the rally started, Iran's security forces and secret agents at the scene began insulting the protesters in an attempt to disperse them.  The police warned them with a bullhorn that arrests were imminent if they continue the rally.  The police also did not permit anyone to take any film footage of the rally, and in some cases, mobile phones were confiscated.  A number of people at the rally said security agents arrested several protesters, many of whom were relatives of death row inmates.

Iran uses the death sentence to silence dissent and send a message to anyone who dares to speak out against the authorities.  Nearly 3,000 people have been executed during the tenure of Iranian president Hassan Rouhani alone, which began in August 2013.  The regime ruling Iran has the highest number of executions per capita of any country on Earth.

The mothers' motivation to save their children's lives and improve the future conditions in prisons inspired many to take action, however risky.  Over the 38 years of mullah rule, mothers spent hours in front of the notorious Evin prison or in front of the justice department or parliament, pleading to save the lives of their children.

What the ayatollahs fear most is that the women's protest today to stop the execution of their children will empower them if they succeed, broadening their horizons far beyond the familiar domestic role.  Indeed, this transformation of women from the current survival mechanism to that of a political voice is a common thread for Iran's dictators, linking many other women in Iran.  That is why Tehran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, showed fear in his address upon the occasion of the Nowruz or New Year's message last March 21, when he said:  "A woman at home is the source of peace, the source of peace for the man, and the source of peace for the children."

Dictators and especially the mullahs in Iran have always sought to prevent women from being active outside their homes, just as they have prevented them from having economic power and or any voice in the political structure.  They know they are playing with fire by rousing these women with the executions of their children.

Hassan Mahmoudi is a human rights advocate and social media journalist seeking democracy for Iran and peace for the region.
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