Relatives of poet Hashem Shaabani were reportedly told on 29 January 2014 that he had been executed by hanging “three or four days before”.
Hashem Shaabani Nejad (also spelled: Sha’baninejad or Sha’bani-Nejad), a 32-year-old father of one child, was allegedly executed alongside fellow teacher Hadi Rashedi after conviction of “enmity against God”, “corruption on earth”, “gathering and colluding against state security” and “spreading propaganda against the system” by Branch Two of the Ahvaz Revolutionary Court. The sentence had been upheld by the Supreme Court in January 2013.
According to independent watchdog Freedom House, Shaabani’s execution shows that despite promises by Iranian president Hassan Rouhani after his 2013 election to fight discrimination of ethnic minorities, violent repression remains government policy.
“The execution of Hashem Shaabani from Iran’s Ahwazi Arab minority shows the gap between Iranian attempts to improve its international relations and the human rights situation in the country,” commented PEN International, the global organisation of writers.
PEN International urged the Iranian authorities to halt all executions and to release all writers, poets, journalists and bloggers held solely in connection with their peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression:
“We condemn this execution as the ultimate violation of the right to life of a fellow poet. In addition, there are serious concerns that Hashem Shaabani was tortured after his arrest to pressure him to make a televised “confession” which was subsequently shown on national television. His trial was thus grossly unfair,” said Marian Botsford Fraser, Chair of PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee.
“While the releases last year of prominent writers such as lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and journalist Jila Bani Yaghoub were welcome, the authorities must show that they are truly committed to respecting freedom of expression and other fundamental rights,” she stated.
No access to a lawyer
Hashem Shaabani and Hadi Rashedi were arrested in early September 2011, along with three other men, Mohammad Ali Amouri, Sayed Jaber Alboshoka and his brother Sayed Mokhtar Alboshoka, who were tried with them, apparently in connection with cultural activities on behalf of Iran’s Ahwazi Arab minority.
All five men had no access to a lawyer or their families for the first nine months of their detention and are reported to have been tortured or otherwise ill-treated before and after the verdict.
PEN International is monitoring the cases of well over 20 writers detained, imprisoned or facing imprisonment in Iran. According to Iran Human Rights Documentation Center’s estimates, there have been a total of 55 executions in Iran so far in 2014.
Blogger Steven Hager published the following text which allegedly is a translation of excerpts of a letter by Hashem Shaabani, released prior to his execution:
“After our peace festivals were banned by the government, we aspired to study our mother tongue as stated in Articles 15 and 19 of the Islamic Republic Constitution. We soon realized the constitution was a mirage and it was futile to try and work through local media, so I began publishing my poems on social media to reveal sufferings of the Ahwazi Arabs and used my nickname “Abu Aala Al-ofoghi.” I posted a report on the “Black Wednesday” massacre that happened in Mohammarah in 1979.
On 11th of February 2011, when I was staying at home and after I came back from the Shaihk Ansari high school, where I used to teach in Khalafyeh, I was arrested by the Iranian intelligence service (Etelaat) and accused of being a member of the resistance. I suffered physical and mental tortures and was forced to make false confessions. I stayed five months in the detention center of the intelligence services and transferred to Karoun prison. I first appeared in court on 21st of May, 2012. I tried to say the truth in front the judge and honestly stated the so-called “popular resistance” did not exist, that I only represented “Hashem Shabani” and that I was forced under physical and mental tortures by Etelaat to confess things I never committed. I made my statement in front of the judge three different times. I was surprised and angry when I heard the final verdict. They gave me and four of my friends death sentences, and another friend, Rahman Asakereh, received 20 years imprisonment in exile. I’d like to confirm that I never participated in any armed activity as I totally disagree with violence.”
Hashem Shaabani (Abu Aala Al-ofoghi)
» Letter from Hashem Shaabani, translated and published on 11 June 2013: www.ahwaziarabs.info
» Iran Human Rights Documentation Center – 31 January 2014:
IRI Executes Two Ahwazi Arab Men
The Iran Human Rights Documentation Center (IHRDC) has learned further details concerning the executions of two Ahwazi Arab prisoners, Hadi Rashedi and Hashem Sha’baninejad, in the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI).
» PEN International – 7 February 2014:
Execution of Ahwazi-Arab poet in Iran condemned
» Al Jazeera – 10 February 2014:
Iranian poet executed for ‘waging war on God’
Death sentence carried out on ethnic Arab Hashem Shaabani, accused of being an “enemy of God” and a threat to security.
» Ahwazi Arabs – 17 August 2012:
Torture of Ahwazis sentenced to death
Five Ahwazi Arab political prisoners recently sentenced to death are in imminent danger of execution, but severe use of torture could lead to the death of one of the men before he reaches the gallows.
Arabic teacher and poet Hashem Shaabani, chemistry teacher Hadi Rashidi, writer Mohammad Ali Amoori, soldier Sayed Mokhtar Alboshoka and his brother Sayed Jaber Alboshoka are all being held in Karoon Prison, which is renowned for torture, ill-treatment and poor conditions.
Hommage à Hashem Shaabani (in French language)