11 October 2009, 19 mehr 1388, Alireza Firouzi, behnoud shojaee, capital punishment, death penalty, evin, execution, iran, Kouhyar goudarzi, minor, mohammad mostafaei, Mohammad Olyaeifard, PArvin Fahimi, Saba Vasefi, save children from execution
Behnoud Shojaee was executed
at dawn on 11 October 2009 in Evin
one day after World Day Against the Death Penalty.
Interview with Behnoud Shojaee by Saba Vasefi
The Night Behnoud Died – By: Alireza Firoozi
Last night was like no other. Politics or personal interests were not on anyone’s mind. People had sacrificed a good night’s sleep and had come for humanitarian reasons. Hours after midnight they all stood in front of Evin’s gates and waited for the victim’s family to arrive. They all hoped to be able to get the family’s consent to stop the execution and bring back happiness to Behnoud’s house.
We arrived in front of the gates at about 2 am. A crowd of 50 people had already gathered. Mothers for Peace, human rights activists and artists were among the group of people who were waiting in front of the gates. Their number was increasing by the minute. After a few minutes, Mr. Olyaeifard, one of the lawyers, arrived and introduced Behnoud’s family to the crowd of supporters. He also introduced to us the representative of UNICEF who was present.
Everybody had high hopes and there was no talk of grief. They were all impatiently waiting for the arrival of the victim’s family. There was an expectation that, upon their arrival, the family would forgive Behnoud, astounding us all in the act; that the sky would smile once again, and everybody could go back home happy and celebrate the new day.
An hour passed and Mr. Mostafaei, the other lawyer, arrived. The crowd was getting bigger, and, by 4 am, had reached 200 people. People from all walks of life were present. A few minutes before 4 o’clock, Ehsan’s (victim) family also arrived in front of the gates. We had been advised not to rush to them, but eagerness and hope to make a difference took the better of everyone and we all ran to the small prison gate. This is a gate which has seen many happy moments. I was thinking of friends who had walked out of those gates and had come to those of us who were waiting outside. Enthusiasm and optimism were in the air.
Ehsan’s father spoke as he was crying, “I am a father too. I have lost my loved one.” People were crying with him and were trying to comfort him. Ehsan’s brother was angry and kept saying, “Leave my father alone. I have lost my younger brother.” When people tried to approach Ehsan’s mother, his sister stopped them and said, “Leave her alone; she is ill.” The crowd was chanting, “Forgiveness, forgiveness. In between their chants, there were moments of deafeningly heavy silence. Sohrab Arabi’s mother [Parvin Fahimi] went forward and said, “I waited in front of these gates for a month. Every day I was given hope that my child was still alive. Then on the last day I realized that he had been killed. I am a mournful mother too. For the sake of all the blood spilled, I beg you to forgive. Alas, they did not.
At last his father said, “OK, I will forgive. Let me go in. I can’t think right now.” Ehsan’s parents and Behnoud’s lawyers went inside. It was a strange moment. Everybody was trying to do something to make those endless moments of waiting pass faster. The crowd was optimistic that the father would forgive Behnoud. Some people were praying and reciting Amman Yojib Prayer, others were smoking, and some were talking about the upcoming execution of Safar Angouti, while telling others not to forget about it. We were coming up with new ideas on how to get the consent of the other victims’ families in future cases.
An hour passed. I was standing next to Kouhyar Goudarzi and Dr.[Hesam] Firoozi. I thought of finding out when Morning Prayer was so I would know how much longer we had to wait to hear the good news. I dialed 192 and realized that the call for prayer had passed and we were an hour away from sunrise.
It was 5:05 am. A few minutes later we heard weeping. Until then, every time we had tried to call the lawyers, they had not answered. When we heard the weeping we tried to call again. I dialed Mr. Olyaeifard, and Kouhyar called Mr. Mostafaie. The news was the same. Their voices were hoarse and tearful but they couldn’t cry. I don’t remember if I said good-bye to him over the phone. I did not know what to do. I did not know which part of this dark night I should hang on to. All I heard over the phone was, “It is over.”
I remember there was weeping and crying everywhere. My eyes were looking for Behnoud’s father in the crowd. He was not crying. He was just walking as if he had lost someone. At times he was running, while other times he was walking slowly. Maybe he could not believe that his son had joined the wife he had lost and was going to be buried next to her. Maybe he could not believe that his son’s lifeless body was going to come out of those gates. Maybe he could not believe…
Mohammad Mostafaie and Mohammad Olyaeifard walked out of the narrow gates. The news had not changed. They were not crying. In their tired eyes there was a cry that, if allowed, would have deafened and defeated the world. A few minutes later they both started to cry, as if the news had just hit them. I don’t know what Ehsan’s parents were doing at that moment; the same parents who removed the stool from under a young man’s feet.
One person in the crowd asked for permission to speak, “Behnoud is just the beginning. We will never forget Behnoud because we want to save others like him. Safar Angouti is a few steps away from execution. We have to do something to save him from execution.”
So, let us get ready, for, in ten days, Safar will go to the gallows. We shall not let them execute him.