Iran: “Prisoner of Colours” is Executed

Delara Darabi

Delara Darabi

On Friday morning, Iranian authorities executed Delara Darabi, a 23 year-old woman, who was convicted for a murder at the age of 17 and held at the Rasht Central Prison for several years. Delara had earned notoriety as “the prisoner of colours” for her haunting paintings of prison life that were admired by many.

Amnesty International declared in a statement that Delara Darabi was executed despite having been given a two-month stay of execution by the Head of the Judiciary on April 19.

Several bloggers, including some lawyers, shared their feelings on her execution, and criticized the Iranian judiciary system for executing people for crimes they committed as minors.

Mohmmad Mostafai, a lawyer who followed Delara's case closely, says [fa]:

قاضی جاوید نیا حکم اعدام دلارا را صادر کرد. پس از مدتی دادستان رشت شد. از زمانی که او متصدی این پست گردید. یک نفر در این شهر سنگسار شد و امروز دلارا دارابی جانش از بدنش جدا شد.
ولی چرا؟
عده ای می گویند دلارا مقصر است. عده ای می گویند پدرش مقصر است و عده ای می گویند وکلیش؟ من می گویم دستگاه قضایی. چرا با وجودی که بسیاری از کشورهای دنیا اعدام اطفال زیر ۱۸ سال را منع کرده اند دستگاه قضایی بر اعدام اطفال پافشاری می کند؟

Judge Javid Nya ordered the execution. Shortly after he became the prosecutor of Rasht, he ordered a person to be stoned, and today Delara Darabi's soul left her body. Some say Delara was guilty. Some say it was her father, and others say her lawyer is guilty. But I say the judicial system is guilty. Why does the judiciary system insist on executing minors, while most countries in the world have banned the execution of children under 18?

Mostafai who has defended several minors in Iran's prisons, adds that they killed Delara without informing her lawyer and family because they knew “millions of people” in the world support her.

Maybe Mostafai is overstating the amount of people who were aware of the case, but Delara certainly had many supporters in both virtual and real life.

Amnesty International in London recently organized a protest meeting in front of the Islamic Republic's embassy in London to stop her execution.

In the virtual world, a Save Delara campaign was launched with activity on twitter and Facebook.

Baloch says the Iranian state “sows madness and reaps human beings”. The blogger questions what the presidential candidates’ opinion on this execution are.

Sassan Aghayi wrote [fa] a poem titled “Maybe tomorrow” about Delara. She says the story is beyond writing and requires poetry. One verse goes:

شاید همین فردا
و باز همین فردا، پس فردا
فرشته‌ی مرگ سیراب نشده،
آغوش تازه‌ای می‌خواهد؛
شاید همین تو را.

Maybe tomorrow or the day after tomorrow
Unsatisfied Death Angel wants a new one to hold
Maybe this one is you

Ardavan writes [fa] that finally Delara will sleep tonight without nightmares.


  • marty robbins

    What is the difference, children in the United States are serving sentences of life without parole upon conviction.Another way to look at life at oppression across the board would be that death immedaiely would be better than stuck in jail for life-and in the USA, the prisoners rape you etc etc-a life long punsihment.maybe death is a better alterntive.My 10 cents worth-so we must look at people in jail generally and not put them in different pedestals-life or detah but the point is children in jail.

  • Clara

    This is just terrible…

  • Aideen Shirazi

    The world community needs to work together to stamp out events like Delara Darabi’s death and other state sanctioned crimes. The fact that this happened in the Islamic Republic of Guilan, officially part of Iran but also a place that has had designs on independence since 1906 (was even an independent communist republic in 1920-21) and does act independently to this day often, means that it is all over the media. The immediate assumption is that this is a medieval, desert land full of turbaned bearded men, camels, run-down 700 year old buildings and the like with an uneducated population. Wrong.

    Rasht, the capital, where this person died, is a modern, European-looking city (not unlike something from the Czech Republic or Lithuania – or 1990s Serbia or Croatia for a perhaps more apt comparison!). The population are for the most part secular, educated and modern in outlook. The culture mixes elements of Persian, Guilani (who speak Gilaki as well as Farsi as a language), Kurdish, Azeri and even Russian cultures. Much of the rest of the Northwest of what is popularly known as “Iran” (as if “Iran” was really one unified country with one race of people!) inclusive of the capital, Tehran, is much the same.

    Also, the terrain in Guilan is lush, green forested areas and grass land. The climate is Meditarranean at best but also temperate and cold. Iran is NOT Saudi Arabia and should not be copying their stupid laws either (apart from its policies on terrorists and drug dealers – but the Iranian central “government” cannot do anything about their takeover of the impoverished East of the so-called country). Iran is NOT Israel and shouldn’t be blaming others aggressively for its problems (if Iran does want to show it is different to Israel!). Iran is NOT the USA either and should stop trying to emulate it in its region: that is, like, Khatami tried to be Clinton, Ahmadinejad tried to be Bush and now Obama, the next president of Iran will also try to be Obama. Iran talks a lot about other countries now and in the past (favorably, unfavorably, and in mix ways) to cover up its own insecurities as a nation. It doesn’t have to. Islam is not even important in Iran from a political sense – it is the official religion and has always been a private affair. Shia Islam has always been apolitical – in Arab countries, political Islam has more of a tradition.

    Go to Guilan and other parts of the NorthWest of Iran (including Tehran) and you’d think you could be in Czech Republic, Austria, Serbia or Germany. It is a beautiful and fertile land. Like the other 4 mentioned countries proved, dictators (whether local or national or foreign) do not have to rule just in lands that are barren full of uneducated people. Stalin, Hitler, Milosevic and so on all lead advanced modern nations. Guilan and the other modern republics within Iran such as Tehran, Mazandaran, Ardabil and so on are run by parochial governors besotted with their own power and they do not act in the interests of the people. Delara was executed without the permission of the Tehran central government. Why? She was innocent, was raped by prison guards and would be freed. If she was left live, she would have a story to tell and the prison guards were probably from connected families and you can get the rest. Corruption is the biggest killer of innocents in the world.

    For camels, turbans, desert and religious nuts, you need to go to the East of the country and for the rest apart from the besotted religious nuts, you get it down south as well. You will see no difference there with regard to corrupt local dictators besotted with their own power. Go outside the borders of Iran, and it begins to get even worse!

    At least – just because Iran (as an entity – a concept that only exists in the West as Iran cannot be called an entity) is out with the West – Iranian corruption related killings are reported. Western allies like Saudi Arabia and China kill even more people but get away with it. Saddam Hussein when ally of the West got away with it. Saudi Arabia, the state that Iran’s post-apocalypse gunmen based their legal system on along with the brutal execution methods of rather ironically Baathist Iraq, is the most corrupt and unequal country the world has ever seen. It is a truly awful place to live. Why should Iran, up until 1978 a very cultured, secular and PERSIAN society, copy the worst of Arab culture (nothing wrong with Arabs or Arab culture but Iran should have Persian culture and the Arabic minority in Iran should get the best of Arab culture not the worst)?

    Iran had its apocalypse between 1978 and 1988 – a succession of weak, aged governments who were too sick to handle tumultuous events. Imam Khomeini was a great Ayatollah, religious scholar and leader but he was too old and too weak to control a country. Bani Sadr, Bazargan and the rest were also too weak. Not many know but Khomeini was not in favor of the embassy takeover or having so much clerics in power. However, the gunmen called the shots! and yes held Iran and US hostage for over 400 days with their demands. The Shah, Khomeini and now the modern Khamenei/Khatami/Ahmadinejad lineups have all bowed to the pressure of these gunment called the Pasdaran and Basiji.

    The worst thing that ever happened Iran happened in September 1980. Saddam Hussein! He invaded and the regular Iranian army was not up to much. This is where the Pasdaran and Basiji thugs came in and they won the war for Iran and became heroes with many people. If Iran-Iraq war had not happened, the new Iranian Republic would not have been as weak, corrupt, radical or radicalised. Paranoia and hardening or attitudes allowed Pasdaran and Basiji scum to scale the heights of power and control large swathes of the land as if it was their right to. The Mullahs of Iran are even worried and from the beginning, Khomeini, Khamenei, Rafsanjani and others have voiced their concerns over these having too much power. The West may love to see the Mullahs go in Iran but if the choice is between them and the Basiji, I’d prefer to see the Mullahs stay. There are loads of Pasdaran and Basiji going for election this year.

    Ahmadinejad, a non-Mullah, was the transition guy to pave the way for post-Mullah Iran. Ahmadinejad was a member of Basiji, though more out of career motives and not of great importance in it: he always avoided warfare and was mostly a lecturer and passive member. But the ideal transition candidate to make room for a more brutal and real Basiji to take over. I’m pretty sure that such a person will unite Iran (and kill a lot of innocents) with force and he will be like Stalin or Mao. Its up to the West if he survives or not: Milosevic tried to unite Yugoslavia, as fractured and divided a state as Iran, by force and ended up at war with the US. Stalin and Mao were pretty much ignored. That’s why the Basiji and Pasdaran want a nuclear weapon so bad! So far, any of the constituant states in Iran has not gone on an ethnic cleansing binge like the others mentioned but if the Pasdaran get into official power and have the deal made with the West that will change!

    Liberal legislation goes through the Iranian parliament all the time over the past number of years on various issues. This includes abolishing torture and the death penalty and improving relations with the US. Even the highest in office advocate much of this. Why then is it not implemented? Because the Pasdaran and Basiji have the final say, not Khamenei, not Ahmadinejad and definitely not even that corrupt survivor of Iranian politics Rafsanjani. Voting in Iran is a shambles, as the system won’t change. But then again voting anywhere is a shambles because all the world is corrupt now.

  • Becky Dahlstrom

    Yet her drawings live on…
    I can see the depiction of good and evil and I see her very soul laid bare by the evils of men.
    Knowing that you are innocent and have been wronged but having no power to change the course of your life.
    That is total torture.
    What a beautiful young lady she WAS….

  • […] Beitrag erschien zuerst auf Global Voices. Die Übersetzung erfolgte durch Veronica Bauer, Teil des “Project Lingua“. Die […]

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