Target: Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei, Leader of the Islamic Republic
Goal: Revoke the death penalty for a man convicted of “insulting the prophet.”
Many people think that capital punishment is reserved only for crimes that make the difference between life and death. Not so for Rouhollah Tavana, who has been sentenced to die by an Iranian court for “insulting the Prophet.” Sign the petition and demand that his sentence be revoked.
In addition to the charge of insulting the Prophet, Tavana is accused of “alcohol consumption,” “making alcoholic beverages,” and “illicit sexual relations,” Amnesty International reports. For these charges, he was sentenced to flogging and imprisonment, but the charge of “insulting the Prophet” carries the death penalty. While he admits that he did make insulting remarks about the Prophet, Tavana maintains that he was drunk at the time, “which, under Iranian law, would exempt him from the death penalty.” The court, however, maintains that Tavana was not drunk enough for the exemption to come into effect.
In addition to the absurdity of the charges against him, Tavana was not allowed access to a lawyer during the three-and-a-half months he spent in custody, and he spent this time in solitary confinement. Upon his arrest, his home was raided, and many of his belongings were confiscated. His family was unaware of his whereabouts for six weeks following his arrest.
The case epitomizes the human rights issues at stake in Iran’s current legal system. Corporal punishment, such as flogging, is condemned the world over, and the death penalty, already condemned in many corners, is internationally recognized as a punishment reserved for only the highest crimes–in other words, for crimes that involve a loss of life. A death sentence for words spoken while intoxicated is not justice. Sign the petition and demand that Rouhollah Tavana’s life be spared.
I am writing to express my outrage at the death sentence that has been levied upon Rouhollah Tavana. His impending capital punishment epitomizes the problems with Iran’s legal system and represents a gross miscarriage of justice. I demand that his sentence be revoked, and that the law under which he was convicted be revised to fall in line with international standards of justice.
Tavana, who was convicted of “insulting the Prophet,” maintains that he made the alleged insults while he was intoxicated–and the court acknowledged this. Under the law, this ought to exempt him from the death penalty. But the court ruled that Tavana was not drunk enough for the exemption to apply. This subjective loophole further deprives the accused of any hope of justice.
In addition to the vagueness of the charges against him, Tavana has been subjected to a string of human rights violations, including months of solitary confinement, lack of access to legal representation, and incommunicado detention. His case is a point-by-point illustration of what is wrong with Iran’s legal system, particularly the Islamic Penal Code, which violates several of the tenets of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
The world is watching. Do what is right–spare Rouhollah Tavana’s life.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Barnelbe via Wikimedia Commons