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8/29/04 - HANGING IN IRAN - 2004-08-30

According to the human rights group Amnesty International, Iranian authorities have executed a sixteen-year-old girl for what were described as “acts incompatible with chastity.” Iranian officials said the girl, Ateqeh Rajabi, was twenty-two, but her national identity card reportedly said she was only sixteen. Amnesty International says she was publicly hanged on August 15th in the northern Iranian town of Neka.

Few details are available, but the charges against Miss Rajabi reportedly involved prostitution. And while she was given the death penalty for her alleged crimes, Amnesty International said that an unnamed man arrested with her was given one-hundred lashes and then released. Amnesty International also said that Ms. Rajabi was not believed to be mentally competent and that she had no access to a lawyer.

As the U.S. State Department’s human rights reports make clear, people in Iran do not receive fair trials. Those targeted by the radical Islamic regime are victims of “summary executions; disappearances; torture and other degrading treatment. . .poor prison conditions; arbitrary arrest. . .and prolonged and incommunicado detention.” Under Iran’s clerical regime, human rights abuses against women are even more severe. Among other injustices, in judicial proceedings, the testimony of a woman is worth only half that of a man.

The radical clerics who rule Iran have brought great misery and suffering to the country and its people. But as Iraq and Afghanistan move toward democracy and respect for human rights, the Iranian people will be watching closely. President George W. Bush says this is especially true of Iran’s young people:

“. . .young, vibrant, professional people who want to be free. And they’re wondering whether or not they’ll have the opportunity.”

In Iran, says Mr. Bush, “tired, discredited autocrats are trying to hold back the democratic will of a rising generation.” Many Iranians say that sooner or later, freedom and the rule of law will come to Iran. And Americans, says President Bush, “will do all in our power to help them find the blessings of liberty.”