Reyhaneh Jabbari was executed on October 24, 2014, age 26, after nearly 8 years of imprisonment, after having been accused of killing a member of Iran’s Intelligence Ministry who tried to rape her. She was 19 at the time of the incident.
On October 20th, near the second anniversary of her execution, the memorial ceremony to commemorate her death was raided and her mother, Sholeh Pakravan, arrested.
Pakravan, a well-known advocate for women’s rights in Iran, had recently written an open letter to the mothers who lost their children in a recent mass execution in Iran.
“I know you still feel a great pang in your heart,” Pakravan said in the letter. “You do not understand the meaning of sleep and food, fatigue and pain… I know all anxieties suddenly disappear and instead a sea of sorrow emerges in your heart. You feel that the bitterness of moments cast all over your world and all of your dreams cannot come true. You cannot hear your children’s voice or you cannot embrace or smell them. I know you go to sleep enthusiastically so that you see your children in the dream”.
Member of European Parliament Julie Ward released a statement in support of Pakravan’s efforts and in commemoration of Jabbari’s life.
“This week is the 2nd anniversary of the criminal execution of Reyhaneh Jabbari, a young Iranian interior decorator who was hanged on 25 October 2014 for the simple reason of having defended her dignity at the age of only 19 when an agent of the regime had tried to sexually assault her,” the letter said.
“She was kept in jail for 7 years and was under constant pressure to give in and make false confessions. Reyhaneh was a true hero! She was offered her life in exchange for the price of humiliation. She knew the consequences of her choice, but she couldn’t accept dishonour, and so she went to her death.”
“Reyhane’s Mother Sholeh has now taken up the call for justice for her brave daughter. She has spoken out and launched a campaign against death penalty in Iran…I want to salute Sholeh and her brave campaigns.”
Jabbari’s execution became a symbol for both the unfair treatment of women in Iran and the fact that members of Iranian intelligence services are effectively above the law.
“They kept her in a solitary cell where she was chained,” Jabbari’s first lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaei, said in an interview with The Daily Beast. “They would blindfold her sometimes for days and they beat her face and her head.”
According to Mostafaei, Jabbari was lured to the apartment of the intelligence service member, Sarabandi, where he attempted to rape her. Jabbari then stabbed the man with a pen knife, which was revealed in an autopsy not to have been a fatal injury. A second man, also a member of Iran’s Intelligence Ministry, then showed up at the apartment and murdered Sarabandi, said Mostafaei to the Daily Beast.
Although Jabbari confessed to the crime while in policy custody, Mostafaei said her confession was obtained under duress.
“[The second Intelligence Ministry member] and Sarbandi were members of the intelligence service,” he said. “They used their influence with the judge. The court was not fair. If Mr. Sarbandi was an ordinary person, I am sure the judges would not convict Reyhanneh to death.” Mostafaei had to drop the case in 2010 after he was exiled from Iran for defending another female victim of violence.