Remember Reyaheneh Jabberi, the 26-year-old Iranian woman who was sentenced to death for killing a man she said was sexually assaulted by? Well, we’ve got some good news and some bad news about her. On Monday, she was transferred to a different prison, raising fears that her execution was imminent; but on Tuesday, it was reported that Iran had deferred her execution by 10 days amid relentless pressure from activists. The good news is that Jabberi is still alive; the bad news is that she might soon become the 600th prisoner to be executed in Iran since its “moderate” government was elected in summer 2013.
Jabberi’s story was all over the news and social media this week as rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch scrambled to mobilize activist support for her and pressure Iran to halt her execution, and as her relatives pleaded for her life.
Jabberi’s fate is still hanging in the balance. But Iran has already carried out another execution – that of Mohsen-Amir Aslani, who was convicted of “insulting the prophet Jonah” and making “innovations in religion.” Most outlets reported Aslani’s execution in a de-facto tone of voice, but The Daily Beast took the opportunity to call the West out on trusting Iran when it “just hanged a man who doubted ‘Jonah and the Whale,'” and for taking President Hassan Rouhani’s word on the justness of the Iranian judicial process at face value when this latest execution is a shining example of a “truly Kafkaesque legal process.” RIA Novosti also panned the “serious shortcomings ingrained in the Iranian judicial system,” as illustrated by the Jabberi case.
With the nuclear talks hinging, according to US negotiator Wendy Sherman, on the fate of Americans imprisoned in Iran, Amnesty official Allan Hogarth’s assertion that “Iran is a serial human rights offender” and Canadian MP Irwin Cotler’s suggestion that Rouhani “continues to indulge a culture of impunity” do not bode well for the negotiations – nor for those men and women Iran has taken prisoner, who can do nothing but hope that their government will finally make good on its promises of change.