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Iran Hangs Well-Loved Human Rights Activist, Poet

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Iran has executed human rights activist Hashem Shaabani, a 32- year-old Arab-Iranian, for “waging war on God.”

Other charges included sowing corruption on earth, propaganda against the Islamic Republic and acting against national security, according to a 2012 sentence handed down by the Ahvaz Islamic Revolutionary Court.

A well-known and loved poet in Iran, Shabaani was originally arrested in 2011 and “confessed” the crime of terrorism on Iranian state-controlled Press TV after being subjected to months of torture and interrogation.

However, in a letter that was published by Ahwaz News Agency in 2013, Shaabani said he had “never participated in any armed activity, whatever the motives.”

He said, “I started my journey wielding my pen against the tyranny that is trying to enslave and imprison minds and thoughts …”

Shabaani continued, “I have tried to defend the legitimate right that every people in this world should have which is the right to live freely with full civil rights. With all these miseries and tragedies, I have never used a weapon to fight these atrocious crimes except the pen.”

According to the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, Shabaani was executed along with his friend Hadi Rashedi, both members of the Dialogue Institute that was outlawed by Iranian regime.

Shabaabi was outspoken against the mistreatment of ethnic Arabs in Iran's Khuzestan province, which borders Iraq. He was arrested in early 2011 on charges of being a moharabeh, an "enemy of G-d."

Radio Free Europe reported that Shaabani was hanged after his sentence was approved by President Hassan Rohani last week.

As Clarion Project reported, the number of executions in Iran has significantly increased since President Hassan Rouhani took over the office from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in August 2013.

According to statistics provided by the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center — which lists those executed by name, date, location and crime — Iran put to death over 529 people in 2013, 300 alone since Rouhani assumed office in August.

Belying his image painted by the Western as a “moderate,” Rouhani has now catapulted his country into the position of being the world’s leader in executions per capita.

The most common charge garnering the punishment of death was drug trafficking, followed by rape, murder and apostasy.  

Shaabani taught Arabic literature in high schools and organized “peace festivals” (which were banned by the government). He held a masters degree in political science and was the father of one child.  His poetry was published online under the pen name Abo Ala Al-Ofoghi.

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Meira Svirsky

Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org

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