Thursday, May 03, 2007

Delara Derabi


Delara Derabi is a 20 year old woman who is scheduled to be executed in Iran, possibly as soon as next month. She initially confessed to a murder comitted by her then-boyfriend at his insistence, because at the time she was 17 and he was over 18, and they believed she would not receive a harsh sentence, whereas he would. She's recanted her confession since, but has still been found guilty and is scheduled to be executed by hanging.

In January of this year another Iranian girl, Nazanin Mahabad Fatehi(below left) was given clemency from the hangman's noose via a retrial and exoneration after her government received some 350,000 signatures petitioning for her to be freed(she had killed a would-be rapist in self-defense.). If she had been raped and not tried to prevent it, it's likely she would have been found guilty of having unchaste sexual relations(i.e., because she was not married to the attacker), and received a corporal punishment of several lashes instead.

Nazanin and Ateqeh

However, Nazanin may have had the case of Ateqeh Rajabi (b&w inset, above) on her mind when she acted. Ateqeh, who was hanged at the age of 16 for having sexual relations with an older man-- and apparently for talking back to the judge and taking her hijab off in court.[1]

Note that hanging in Iran is a particularly brutish affair, as they don't use the traditional sudden drop designed to snap the victim's neck and kill her nearly instantaneously. Instead the Iranian justice system uses suspension hanging, in which the victim is gradually hoisted off her feet and dies from asphixiation and neck trauma leading to gradual breaking, a process that generally takes 20-30 minutes.

Initially I hesitated to post the "glamour" photo of Delara, because I considered it possibly counter-productive, as her being dolled up and encouraged to pose in a soulful, contemplative manner, undoubtedly at her attorney's behest, might seem like phoniness to some people visiting here. But-- so what? She sure as hell needs sympathy, and if the "glamour" photo better engenders it, so be it. She's nowhere near 350 thousand signatures presently, and she could use some international attention. (There's also a "help delara" myspace page.)

Normally I'd take this moment to chide conservatives for not banging the drum on her behalf, but I've seen very little discussion of her story, whether on the left or the right. I heard about her via Ali Eteraz,here, whose web site I used to visit more frequently.

Delara also paints, mainly in charcoal. has a link to some of her illustrations, like the one below.

Info on the petition is here.


[1]see BBC:"Execution of a teenaged girl"

Nazanin and Ateqeh collage by me, from images from Kristian Hvesser's Save Nazanin page.
Update, above, May 9th.

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