Delara Darabi, a 23-year-old Iranian woman convicted of a murder that occurred when she was 17, was unexpectedly hanged last Friday at Rasht Central Prison. Darabi called her parents early Friday saying that she could see a hangman’s noose from her cell and pleaded for them to save her. According to the BBC, a prison official took the phone and told Darabi’s parents “We are going to execute your daughter and there’s nothing you can do about it” before hanging up. The execution was carried out despite a stay of execution put in place by Iran’s Head of the Judiciary, an international ban on executing juvenile offenders under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and evidence that Darabi’s trial was flawed.
Darabi initially confessed to the murder of a relative in 2003. She later recanted her confession, saying that she had confessed to save her boyfriend, Amir Hossein, who had committed the murder. According to SaveDelara.com, Hossein, then 19, convinced Darabi that if she confessed, she would not be executed because she was under 18 at the time.
Zama Coursen-Neff, Human Rights Watch’s deputy director of children’s rights said “Iran continues to deny that it executes juvenile offenders, but the secret nature of this execution demonstrates that the government knows that these killings are illegal and shameful in the eyes of the world….This travesty of justice in Iran has taken the life of a woman who was not given a fair chance to defend herself.” Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme for Amnesty International said the execution “appears to have been a cynical move on the part of the authorities to avoid domestic and international protests which might have saved Delara Darabi’s life.”