Stop killing gays – Stop killing kids – The 10th anniversary vigil for boys hanged by Iran | This Sunday London 2-3pm. Never Forget!
Posted by Melanie Nathan, July 17, 2015.
To mark the tenth anniversary of Iran’s hanging of two teenagers, Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni, the Peter Tatchell Foundation and the African LGBTI group Out and Proud are holding a memorial vigil to remember these two youths who were publicly hanged by agonizing slow strangulation in the city of Mashhad on 19 July 2005.
Asgari and Marhoni were found guilty of male rape after an unfair trial. LGBTI campaigners inside Iran say they were hanged because they were gay. International human rights organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have often accused the Tehran regime of hanging people on flimsy evidence and on trumped up charges.
“On 19 July, we stand for life, liberty and love. Mahmoud and Ayaz were only children when they were sentenced to die. I remember the photos of their tears in the police van as they were driven to the gallows. It was a heart-breaking sight. This vigil is our attempt to make sure their state-sponsored murder is not forgotten and to stand in solidarity with LGBTI people in Iran,” said protest coordinator Peter Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation.
“We also remember the many other victims of Tehran’s tyranny: students, political dissidents, women, trade unionists, human rights defenders and religious and ethnic minorities.”
The disputed and flawed evidence against Asgari and Marhoni follows below.
The key demand of the London 19 July protest is:
Iran: Stop killing gays! Stop killing children! End the death penalty!
We are urging:
- End all executions in Iran, especially the execution of minors.
- Stop the arrest, torture and imprisonment of Iranian lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people (LGBTI) and repeal the Iranian penal code’s criminalization of same-sex relationships.
- Halt the deportation to Iran of LGBTI asylum seekers and other victims of Tehran’s persecution who have sought refuge in the UK and other countries.
- Support all Iranians struggling for democracy, social justice and human rights.
- Oppose foreign military intervention in Iran. Regime change must come from within – by and for the Iranian people themselves.
- Reject generalized sanctions that cause suffering to ordinary Iranian people. Support only sanctions that target the ruling elite and human rights abusers.
“We believe the LGBTI rights struggle in Iran should be part of – not separate from – the broader democratic and human rights struggle,” added Peter Tatchell.
“When protesting against executions in previous years, we received strong support from the Iranian women’s movement and from Iranian political dissidents and labour movement activists. Linking up with these progressive social forces within Iran is the key to advancing LGBT human rights.”
The flawed, disputed evidence re the execution of Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni in the Iranian city of Mashhad on 19 July 2005:
“The Iranian regime’s allegations against the two hanged youths, Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni, are riddled with contradictions, implausibilities and outright lies,” reports Peter Tatchell.
“At first it was claimed by Iranian officials that they were aged 18 and 19, then that they were 19 and 21, then aged 18 and 20, and finally they made the claim that they were both above 18 at the time of their alleged crimes.
“However, the strongest evidence is that both youths were aged around 17 when they were executed and therefore minors, aged 15 or 16, at the time of their alleged crimes. The execution of minors is in breach of international human rights agreements the Tehran regime has signed.
“The method of hanging was specifically designed to cause a slow, painful death by strangulation.
“Concerning their crimes: initially it was claimed that they committed one rape and were child molesters, then that they had committed several rapes. By the autumn of 2005, supporters of the rulers in Tehran were spreading rumors that they were serial child killers.
“Some LGBT activists inside Iran claim that Mahmoud and Ayaz were gay. They dispute the regime’s claim that they were rapists or child abusers. They say the teens never had a fair trial.
“It is alleged that one and possibly both of the hanged boys were members of Iran’s persecuted Arab minority. Racism and classism may have played a part in the way they were portrayed by the regime as being ‘underclass’ thieves and hooligans.
“Informants inside Iran have said the teens were of good character and that they came from decent, law-abiding families whose fathers had good jobs.
“The execution of Mahmoud and Ayaz conforms to a pattern of state torture and murder of LGBTI people by the homophobic Iranian clerical authorities.
“In publicized executions of gay people, the men are often accused of the kidnap and rape of a younger male. While such claims are not necessarily untrue, they need to be treated with extreme scepticism, as they tend to follow a suspiciously stereotypical formula and such trials are often not free or fair.
“By instituting charges of kidnap and rape, the Iranian authorities apparently hope to discredit the executed, discourage public protests and deflect international condemnation. They calculate that there will be little Iranian or international sympathy for people hanged for crimes like abduction and sexual assault,” said Mr Tatchell.
2-3pm this Sunday 19 July 2015
On the steps of St Martins-in-the-Field Church
Trafalgar Square, London
UPDATED July 20, 2015: Memorials were held in USA, Australia, Germany, UK. Sweden, Iran, Canada and Turkey.
Pictures: Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees Inc. (IRQR) – See Candle memorial on FB page at https://www.facebook.com/IRQRLGBT?_rdr
Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees (IRQR) is an advocacy group founded and headed by Executive Director Arsham Parsi on behalf of Iranian LGBTs seeking safe havens both within and without Iran. It is currently the only active Iranian NGO in the world that works on behalf of the Iranian LGBT around the globe. Headquartered in Toronto, Canada, where the organisation is registered as a NGO according to Canadian law IRQR provides assistance with asylum applications, provides housing and financial assistance to those in desperate need, and petitions Western and other governments of behalf of Iranian LGBTs facing deportation back to Iran, where homosexuality is a criminal action punishable by death.