World Day: the French and Iranians hand-in-hand in Paris


on 12 October 2007

Place de la Bastille, Paris on 10th October, was the scene of a mock execution reproducing the barbarian method used in Iran, during which convicted prisoners are publicly hanged from cranes.
A dummy clothed in the black cape sometimes used in these executions attracted the attention of passers-by all afternoon.
The aim of the event was to draw their attention to the arguments of the campaigners assembled following the call from ACAT-France, Together Against the Death Penalty (ECPM), Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) and the French and Iranian Human Rights Leagues.
The event was one of the initiatives launched all over the globe for the World Day Against the Death Penalty.
“I experienced this scene”, said Hassan Habib (photo), member of the Association for the Defence of Victims of Extremism, whose wife was executed. “When the convicted prisoner starts to kick his feet having been lifted up two or three metres, and then his body is stretched out for the last time, it kills all will. Anyone who witnesses such a scene has no more strength to protest”, he explained.
He found the strength to oppose the death penalty by moving beyond the desire for revenge: he does not want the same end to come to those who executed his wife.

Beyond religious borders
This humanist sentiment extends beyond religious borders, as was proved by the presence of Christian campaigners from ACAT along that of numerous Iranian Muslims.
“Our abolitionist stance is marked by Christian references: in the Bible, when Cain kills his brother Abel, God does not avenge it. But we do not impose our viewpoint on anyone”, said Bernadette Fohran, who works on the death penalty for ACAT (photo).
She noted that whatever the religious persuasion of people who practise or are subjected to the death penalty, it is above all an instrument of domination of minorities for the powerful.
More than 210 people have been executed in Iran since the beginning of the year, placing the country in second position to China of those who carry out the highest number of executions.
On 14th October, the Iranian authorities arrested and imprisoned Emaddedin Baghi, abolitionist campaigner and founder of the Right to Life Association, which is a member of the World Coalition against the Death Penalty.

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