I Never Feared Death: The Plight of Ehsan Fattahian
The last glimmers of the dusk sun
Are showing me the path on which to write;
The sounds of leaves under my steps
Are telling me “let yourself fall
And you will rediscover the path to freedom.”
I never feared death. Even now, as I feel its odd and honest presence next to me, I still want to smell its aroma and rediscover it; Death, who has been the most ancient companion of this land. I don’t want to talk about death; I want to question the reasons behind it. Today, when punishment is the answer for those who seek freedom and justice, how can one fear his fate? Those of “us” who have been sentenced to death by “them” are only guilty of seeking an opening to a better and fair world. Are “they” also aware of their deeds?
I started my life in the city of Kermanshah, the name of which has always been on the tongues of my compatriots for its greatness; the city which is called the cradle of civilization. As my thoughts were developing, I came to see and feel the injustice and discrimination; an injustice that targeted me not only as an individual but also as a member of humankind. I went in thousand different directions to find out the reasons behind injustice. Alas, they had made the arena so closed for those who were thriving for justice that I could not find my way in. I immigrated to another arena outside the superficial boundaries to find answers to my questions. I became a Komeleh guerilla in order to find my stolen identity. Yet I never separated from my first home, and once in a while I returned there to renew my memories. And then one day, they found me during one of my visits, arrested me and put me in a cage. The greeting my captors reserved for me from day one convinced me that my fate would be similar to those who had walked before me along that road: torture, fabricated charges, biased court, an unjust and politically motivated verdict and finally death.
Let me put it this way: after being arrested on July 20th, 2008, in Kamyaran, I was taken to the Intelligence Ministry’s local office. A few hours later, as I was blindfolded and chained and could not see or move, a person who introduced himself as the deputy prosecutor began questioning me. His questions were irrelevant and filled with made up accusations (let me remind you that it is strictly against the law to interrogate people in places other than courts and tribunals). This was the first of many interrogation sessions I had to face. The same night, I was taken to the Intelligence Ministry’s provincial headquarters in Sanandaj, where I had to attend the real party: a dirty cell with a disgusting washroom. The blankets had not been washed for years. This was the beginning of three months of going up and down the hall from my cell to the interrogation room, always being beaten along the way. The honorable interrogators were so keen to get a promotion or make a bit more money that they accused me of all kinds of bizarre things, even though they knew of the falsehood of their accusation. They used every means in their power to prove that I had taken part in armed operations. In the end they could only prove that I had been a member of Komeleh and had taken part in propaganda activities against the regime. The 10 year sentence handed by the initial court is good proof that I only had one charge. The 1st branch of the Revolutionary Court in Sanandaj sentenced me to 10 years in prison, to be served in Ramhormoz Prison outside Kordestan. The political and administrative establishment in Iran has always been in favor of centralized policies, but, apparently, in my case, they had decided to reverse course! Recently provincial appeals courts have become the judicial authority to rule in cases related to political prisoners, even in capital punishment cases. Capital punishment cases were the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. So, the Kamayaran prosecutor objected the initial ruling, and, surprisingly, against Iranian law, the 4th branch of the Kordestan Appeals Court changed the 10 year sentence to a death sentence. According to Article 258 of Iranian Criminal law, appeals courts can only issue a heavier sentence when the initial sentence is lighter than the minimum punishment required by law. The indictment presented by the prosecutor stated the charge as Moharebeh (enmity against God). The minimum punishment required by law in similar cases is 1 year in prison. Now, be the judge yourself and compare the 10 year prison sentence (served in exile) with the minimum required to see how illegal, unlawful and political the death sentence is.
Let me add that, shortly before my sentence was changed to the death sentence, I was taken from Sanandaj prison to the Intelligence Ministry’s detention center, where I was asked to make a false confession on camera, show remorse for the actions I had not committed and reject my beliefs. I did not give in to their illegitimate demands, so I was told that my prison sentence would be changed to the death sentence. They were fast to keep their promise and prove to me how courts always concede to the demands of intelligence and non-judicial authorities. How can one criticize the courts then?
All judges take an oath to remain impartial at all times and in all cases, to rule according to the law and nothing but the law. How many of the judges of this country can say that they have not broken their oath and have remained fair and impartial? In my opinion the number is countable with the fingers on my hand. When the entire justice system in Iran orders arrests, trials, imprisonments and death sentences with the simple hand gesture of an uneducated interrogator, what is to be expected from a few minor judges in a province that has always been discriminated against? Yes, in my view, it is the foundation of the house which is in ruins.
Last time I met in prison with the prosecutor who had issued the initial indictment, he admitted that the ruling was illegal. Yet, for the second time, it has been ruled that my execution should be carried out. It goes without saying that the insistence to carry out the execution at any cost is a result of pressures exercised by political and intelligence groups outside the Judiciary. People who are part of these groups look at the question of life and death of a prisoner only based on their own political and financial interests. They cannot see anything but their own illegitimate objectives, even when it is the question of a person’s right to life - the most basic of all human rights. How pointless is it to expect them to respect international treaties when they don’t even respect their own laws?
Last word: if the rulers and oppressors think that, with my death, the Kurdish question will go away, they are wrong. My death and the deaths of thousands of others like me will not cure the pain; they will only add to the flames of this fire. There is no doubt that every death is the beginning of a new life.
Sanandaj Central Prison
Source: Human Right Activists in Iran