Once again, I am reminded of W H Auden’s lines:
The mass and majesty of this world, all
That carries weight and always weighs the same
Lay in the hands of others; they were small
And could not hope for help, and no help came
Kobra Rahmanpoor, an Iranian woman in her mid-20s, faces imminent execution by hanging. She was convicted of murdering her mother-in-law; however, she says that it was a matter of self-defense, and that she had previously been abused by both her mother-in-law and her husband.
Here is the eloquent plea of Kobra’s father:
An Open Letter to all Noble Humans and all Rights Defender Bodies
I, Abolfazl Rahmanpour, the father of Kobra Rahmanpour pledge you to protest to the unfair sentence of my young daughter.
Kobra, my young daughter, was forced to marry a man, 43 years older than herself. Kobra was a good student in her school and her wish was to study in the university but she was forced to forget all of her wishes because of the extreme poverty of the family.
Kobra had a hard life before marriage and after marriage her life became even worse. the extremeness of problems and sufferings that she had to take in a family that look at her first a servant and then a daughter-in-law, was so much that made a kind girl like her to commit a murder in an accident and while defending herself.
Kobra spent the best years of her youth in the prison and with the threat of death. She has suffered so much and has completely fall. It is so many years that she can feel the execution rope on her neck and her life goes on with sensing death, she shouldn’t suffer more tortures. When look at her colorless eyes, fallen teeth, and senseless body I always ask myself what did I do wrong? What shouldn’t I have done? Whose fault is this?
As she has said herself she wants to live and she is scared from the execution, the rope and the crane. She wants to go to university and study. Kobra is a very kind girl, her inmates can testify that. She should be free as soon as possible to go back to her normal life.
Our only hope is the protest of you noble people to this unjust sentence. The only way of preventing this sentence is the protest of all of the people, human rights defending bodies, committees against the executions and international bodies. Just for a second thought what me and Kobra’s mother are going true to realize how horrible are this days. I wouldn’t mind to be executed instead of Kobra, is that possible? I have always worked from day to night, but I don’t know why our destiny went this way? I and Kobra’s mother have no hope to life or another thing beside Kobra. Help us. Save my Family, my disabled son who always asks about her sister, Kobra, from this horror of execution of our dear Kobra. We are waiting for your definite actions. We all ask you to sign this letter. I know that there is no time and we are in last seconds. I ask for your help once more, in these last seconds. Sign this letter to show that you also demand Kobra’s Freedom.
(from the Save Korba) site)
You can sign the petition here.
This site identifies some of the due process violations with this case, including:
1) lack of defense counsel until the end of the “investigation stage” and inadequate opportunity to prepare a defense thereafter,
2) arbitrary arrest merely on the basis of the victim’s son’s request,
3) fourteen-month-long mandatory pre-trial detention,
4) lack of the right to presumption of innocence and to not self-incriminate,
5) a prolonged trial that was neither public nor had even an appearance of independence and impartiality,
6) an inadequate appeal that was conducted secretively and without a hearing,
7) and finally, like all qisas-e-nafs convicts, lack of the right to seek clemency from the state.
Finally, here are some words from Kobra herself:
I want to live!
I am a human being just like you. I do not want to die. However I am now a soul less body who in fear of the execution rope has forgotten how to laugh and be happy. A lot of people say to me how come your case has been so much publicized but you are still in prison? I have to tell them that I am only steps away from execution. I too like all of you am afraid of dying. Please help me so that this would not be my last letter.
My mother, father and handicapped brother are very worried about me. Your supports so far have been such a comfort to them. I wish my life was different. I wish I had finished my pre-university education. I wish I did not have to be a servant for my husband. I wish I had not reached insanity. I suffered a lot and was intimidated. I am a true victim. Now they are about to hang the victim. This was not and is not my destiny.
In these dark days of fear, I urge you once again to help me. I thank all mass media and all people who supported me before. Now, may be for the last time, I urge you to do everything you can to free me from execution. I like freedom. I dream about my freedom and a good life.
I have suffered enough. Help me to get rid of the nightmare of execution which wakes me up all the time. Do what you can. There is not much time left. Every minute takes me nearer to the rope. Please help me! I am afraid of the rope and death. I hate the rope that is waiting for me on the crane. I want to live. All other doors are closed to me. Nobody helps me. My only hope is the people. I want to hold my mother and father in my arms.
I want to thank my mother, father and all who have supported me. Kobra Rahmanpoor
From Evin prison, Tehran/Iran
Shahrivar 1385 (September 2006)
Remember Auden’s words:
And could not hope for help, and no help came
Let’s try to make it possible for help to come, this time. Please sign the petition and do what you can to publicize Kobra’s case.
There are many other Iranians, especially Iranian women, facing unjust execution, in some cases by stoning. See this site for details.