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Thursday, February 27, 2014

"No Escape from the Hangman's noose!"

Seven Reasons Why I Should Die
By Hashem Shaabani
For seven days they shouted at me:
You are waging war on God!
On Saturday, they said it’s because you’re Arab
On Sunday, Well, you’re from Ahvaz
On Monday: Remember that you are Iranian
Tuesday: You mock the Holy Revolution
Wednesday: Didn’t you raise your voice to help others?
Thursday: You are a poet and a bard
Friday: You are a man. Isn’t this reason enough to die?

Iran's Beloved poet, Hashem Shaabani, could not escape the hangman's noose. His crime? Voicing his opinion, speaking out against the repression of ethnic Arabs by the Islamic regime in Iran. Since the regime sees itself as "God's representative on earth," there is no freedom of speech or disagreement. A person's fate is sealed when he or she publicly criticizes the government.
I remember one of the most dramatic scenes I ever witnessed in a movie was the powerfully painful execution scene in, "Braveheart."
The Scottish freedom fighter, William Wallace, is brought before the English Magistrate and tried for high treason and condemned to public torture and beheading.Wallace refuses to beg for mercy and submit to the king. The magistrate implores him one last time to beg for mercy but instead Wallace screams the word, "Freedom" and is promptly beheaded.
Just this morning, sitting at my computer, I witnessed my first public execution! This time it wasn't a movie, but real life!
A young man, with his wrists tied, and surrounded by two executioners wearing masks, stood on a platform facing a bright spotlight in the early morning hours right before dawn in an undisclosed location in Iran.
The two filmmakers can be heard discussing amongst themselves what this man must be feeling as he is being prepared to have a noose fitted around his neck.
Then suddenly the victim begins to cry out for his mother, begging to see her for the last time. I could hear the frightening wail of the mother in the audience begging to hug her son for the last time. But her demands fall on deaf ears. The executioners refuse this man's last request.
In desperation, the prisoner pushes over the stool he will stand on to be executed. Then in a frenzied moment he kicks the men surrounding him, trying his best to escape the fate that awaits him. Finally several other men rush to the platform and subdue the prisoner. They assist him upon the stool, tie the noose around his neck and then quickly pull it out from beneath him. He struggles for a brief few seconds, dangling helplessly in the air and then dies.
I will never forget the haunting sounds that followed. Cheers and praises from the audience, not delighting in the execution, but rather expressing their relief that his soul can finally rest and he is no longer suffering.
I sat at my computer, silently weeping, numb from what I just witnessed. I felt guilty that I could not say or do something to prevent this horrible tragedy. The painful reality of what his mother just witnessed gripped my soul with feelings of grief and outrage. Then I remembered the last death cry made by William Wallace in Braveheart, "Freedom!"
Unfortunately there is no freedom for Iranians. Since Iran's new President, Hassan Rouhani took office last August, there have been over 385 executions. There were at least 500 in 2013, 57 of them publicly and in the beginning of this year 85. The government has become relentless in cleansing the political prisoner population. These helpless prisoners suffer from serious health problems while in prison without any intervening medical aid. They are not given any proper representations or fair trials and spend sometimes years enduring daily torture before finally being executed!
After witnessing my first public execution, I am now more committed than ever, to continue speaking out and praying for these victims of injustice. To watch another human being dangling helplessly in the air with a noose around his neck, is horrifying and demands a response, an outage against injustices. I cannot just sit by and be silent. 
I have included the video of what I saw on my blog. I challenge you to watch it. It is graphic! It will forever change your life and you will never be the same. If after watching it, you decide to become a voice for these helpless victims than that is good! This is what the Bible commands us to do,

"Speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves.
 Ensure (make certain) justice for those being crushed."
                     (Proverbs 31:8)