Gay activists lobby UN over Iran hangings

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Gay campaigners are calling on the community to lobby the United Nations and European Union amid reports that ten Ahwazi Arab rights activists are scheduled to be hanged in Iran

The men, accused of bombing oil installations, will by hanged from cranes in public, using the slow strangulation method, which is deliberately designed to maximise and prolong their suffering, according to reports in the Iranian media.

Gay activist Peter Tatchell is urging EU Foreign Minister Javier Solana and British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett to petition the capital Tehran to stop the hangings.

The campaign is backed in the UK by Labour MP Chris Bryant, Tory MP Michael Gove and Green MEPs, Caroline Lucas and Jean Lambert.

Mr Tatchell said there is no evidence for their conviction. “The 10 men were found guilty of bombing oil installations in 2005.

“But no material evidence of their guilt was offered at their trial. All the evidence points to their innocence.”

He claims they were given an unfair trial, “Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have repeatedly expressed serious concerns about the fairness of trials involving

Ahwazi Arabs and the safety of their convictions.

“The men’s lawyers were not allowed to see them prior to their trial and they were given the prosecution case only hours before the start of the court proceedings, which were held in secret. Witnesses for the defence were refused permission to testify.

“The lawyers for the condemned men have been arrested for complaining about the illegal and unjust nature of the men’s trials. They have been charged with threatening national security.”

The men due to hang are: Ali Motairi, Abdullah Solaimani, Abdulreza

Sanawati (Zergani), Ghasem Salamat, Mohamad Chaab Pour, Abdulamir

Farajullah Chaab, Alireza Asakreh, Majed Alboghubaish, Khalaf Khaziri

and Malek Banitamim.

He called on the US and Europe to stop worrying so much about Iran’s nuclear weapons and to concentrate on the Islamic state’s human rights record.

Mr Tatchell’s Arab Muslim colleague, Ali Hilli, Middle East Affairs spokesperson for the gay human rights group OutRage!, added: “These flawed trials and barbaric executions of Arabs by the Islamist dictatorship in Tehran are a perversion of Islam. The regime is without mercy and compassion. It is racist against fellow Muslims

because of their ethnic origins.

“These death sentences are part of a pattern of gross human rights abuses. Iran also executes Muslims who turn away from their faith, unchaste women and gay people.”