Sunday, July 21, 2013

A letter to Ahmed Shaheed regarding Zainab Jalalian by Soraya Fallah, Los Angeles, California, USA
Concern over the imminent execution of a female Kurdish political prisoner Zainab Jalalian
Sunday, July 21, 2013
On Friday July 19, 2013, Dr. Ahmad Shaheed , United Nations Special Rapporteur on Iran was present in Los Angeles to give a lecture at UCLA and meet with concerned Iranians about human rights abuses in Iran.
In one of the meetings, Soraya Fallah, women rights advocate, was present along with other members of human rights groups to submit a few requests related to the situation of Kurdish women in Iran. Soraya prepared an article on the double discrimination Kurdish women face in Iran as a result of both their gender and ethnicity. She requested special attention to legally mandated violence such as honor killing and the lack of investigation in alleged self mutilation cases. She submitted a letter which was signed by many concerned human rights activists and writers on the same topic. 
Soraya also wrote a letter to Dr. Ahmad Shaheed regarding Zainab Jalalian who has been in prison since 2007 and is now on dead row. The letter was as follow:

Concern over the imminent execution of a female Kurdish political prisoner Zainab Jalalian

Honorable Dr. Ahmad Shaheed

I am seeking your support regarding one of the women among the listed Kurdish political prisoners in imminent danger of execution.
Zaynab Jalalian, a 30 years old Kurdish woman, was arrested in Kermanshah in early 2007. She was dispatched to the infamous Sanandaj prison soon after. This is the same prison which bears witness to other Kurdish execution, and the tragedy of two sisters Nasrin and Shahla Ka’bi 4 who were violently annihilated.

Three years ago, in a show trail that lasted only a few minutes, Zaynab was condemned to death. Her offense was for the illusory “crime” of enmity against God – moharebeh - and affiliation with a supposed “anti-revolutionary” organization. Her death sentence was approved by the highest judiciary of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the absence of her lawyers Dr. Mohammed Sharif and Mr. Khalil Bahramy.

Ever since the harrowing execution of Shirin (Alam Hooli), Zaynab’s friend and fellow inmate, the shadow of death is looming larger over her; however, Zaynab’s pleas for justice continue to go unnoticed by activists, political figures, and human rights organizations. It seems that many choose to continue to remain blind to Zaynab’s fate, out of fear of being falsely labeled, accused of guilt by association.
It is saddening, but not uncommon to witness such discriminatory treatments. This seems to be, and has always been, the fate of the long list of Kurdish political prisoners : executed or awaiting execution.
Unfortunately, no urgent action has been taken to change Zaynab’s conditions.Thus Zaynab Jalalian and the likes of her are grappling with the nightmare of being slaughtered in obscurity, the worst nightmare for any political prisoner .
In her short epistle of pain and suffering, Zaynab states that, “I asked the judge to allow me to see my mother and my family for the last time, to say goodbye to them before I die; the judge told me to‘Shut the…up!’”
Like other Kurdish women, in addition to facing the widespread gender inequality in Iran, Zaynab has been doubly subjected to various forms of cultural, social, economic, ethnic, and religious discriminations, and experienced extraordinary inequality in educational opportunities. Now too, instead of being provided with an opportunity to redress these injustices, or like every human being be able to meet her full potential, Zaynab awaits the gallows.

My own personal memories (from prison) make it possible to visualize some of her nightmares. I am not sure where she is being held captive, but if she is in one of Kurdish area’s prison, she will be taken to the bathroom, blindfolded, twice a day. She is most likely being kept in a crypt for solitary confinement. There she must lie down on the bare ground, since a bed is something that she can be blessed with only when she is being tortured. This prison is wholly sealed off from inspection by any watchdog organization; it is not even inspected once a year. Last June, in a cell next to Zaynab’s, a Kurdish prisoner, without a trial of any kind, was accused of separatism and consequently subjected to suffocation under the alcohol-boarding method. Zaynab constantly thinks of him, and of another acquaintance of hers, who was executed last May after months of torture.
Such nightmares are experienced daily; these atrocities, which have gone completely unnoticed, frequently take place in the large and small prisons of Kurdistan.

I feel overwhelmed with pain whenever I read any news about Zaynab or when I look at the pictures of her innocent face; it is as if she is the bearer of all incarcerated Kurdish girls’ pains and embodies their suffering.

Thinking of her reminds me of those frightening, chilly nights in Kurdistan’s prisons; the torturous sounds of the interrogators’ feet and the loud reciting of the Quran – I had no idea from which cell it was coming. I think of the military blanket and the curved strips and the broken lines on the walls and those moments when I was forced out of my cell to be tortured. At every moment, I felt a hostage of my fears of the interrogators’ indecent hands, and my thoughts of insufferable moments of violence, coupled with the hopes for freedom.

In the light of your willingness to risk your own life to support and defend many political cases in the past, I am emboldened to ask for your support.

With warmest regards,

Soraya Fallah

Chair of Women leading life