i just recieved an e-mail from scott long about thereasons human rights watch (hrw) chose to stay awayfrom the demonstrations surrouding the july 19th, 2005executions of two young iranians.
please note that this not to challenge hrw's reasonsto step away from the protests but simply to sharewhat i have already shared that scott did not fullyshare in his e-mail. i will now relay the part thatdeals with my hand in the case, and will respondafterwards:
"The main evidence subsequently introduced for theclaim that the youth were gay comes from Afdhere Jama,the editor of Huriyah. According to Afdhere, threesources inside Mashhad have told him that they saw thetwo youths, in the summer of 2003, together at a gayparty in Mashhad.
I have the greatest respect for Afdhere and absolutelyno reason to doubt anything he says. However, hissources have refused to speak to anyone else,including human rights investigators. From aprofessional standpoint HRW simply can't adduce asecond- or third-hand account as evidence. Moreover,even if we did, it would not prove that (as one writersays) they were "lovers, not rapists." It wouldn'tbear on the rape "charge" at all; it wouldnâ€™t evennecessarily prove that they were lovers. It wouldprove that they were at a party."
i want to make something clear. the party/funeral (fora young gay man who died in jail) the people in iranrecall was not just "at a party" but a very centralpart of this case. according to these (three) people,ayaz and mahmoud were were clearly 'together'. also,one of the sources knows the family of ayaz-- henceknows more about the couple.
according to my sources, the boys were arrested abouta year and couple of months before the execution. onthe day of their arrest, five boys were fondling eachother in a semi-public area. their ages were 13, 14,15, 15(mahmoud), and 17(ayaz). these are all boys thatknew each other, and had homosexual relations witheach other. (perhaps for years.) a woman called hercivilian police husband who then tried to arrest themall... (with the help of civilians) but only ayaz,mahmoud and a 13 year old boy were caught.
because the age of consent for men in iran is 15, the13 year old boy is automatically then classified rapedby then-15 year old mahmoud and 17 year old ayaz. so,in the eyes of the iranian law, that boy was rapedwhether the other boys were a few years older or notis not even a question, not to mention whether he wasa willing participant. and because the issue ishomosexuality, it even carries a harsher sentence.
it should be noted that none of the claims about"knife" and "drunk" are true... but trumped up claimsto support how these "heterosexual" boys raped a"heterosexual" teen.
the father of the 13 year old boy claimed his son wasraped because in the conservative society of iran itis much better to have a heterosexual raped son than ahomosexual willing participant. everyone and anyonefrom the east can identify with this.
in reality, however, these boys faced many charges...including resisting arrest (for running away),disrupting public peace (because apparently the wholeneighborhood was in chaos because everyone wanted tohurt the boys who were committing homosexuality),public indecency (for having homosexual sex inpublic), and ultimately for homosexual/sodomy rape ofmen (which carries much tougher penalty than aheterosexual rape, for the 13 year old), etc.
it should also be noted that the quds daily hrw reliedon is a government-controlled news agency, who have inthe past and the present contribute news onlyacceptable to the government. as far as i know, thereare really no independent iranian news agencies whichdealt with this story-- because they could nothonestly deal with it and get away with it.
as part of our correspondents for huriyah in over 70countries, we have more than 200 people ... many ofwhom want to remain anonymous, for good reasons. andwhen something like this happens, in a country likeiran, it is impretive to consider the lives of theliving when wanting to help the deceased. there aretwo countries in the world where i would rather diethan out sources-- iran and saudi arabia. and the samereasons that scott long cannot go to iran toinvestigate, i can truly understand when iraniansdon't want to risk their lives.
those of you who will go to these protests, pleasedon't go because those boys were gay but because theywere two human beings, however young, who were takenaway from living their lives because the state deemedwhatever mistake they made was worth to end theirlives.