Two Hangings

I’ve argued before on this blog that capital punishment is a horrendous practice in a supposedly civilized world, and execution by hanging is pretty nasty. Yet more than 50 countries still execute their citizens through hanging; some, mostly Islamic, do so publicly which leaves me in no doubt as to the mentality of those who enforce it, and those who watch willingly.

There were two reported cases of hangings in the past week – one which turned out well for the accused, and the other which makes me very sad and angry.

Thankgod Ebhos, a Nigerian was freed last week when a court ruled in his favour, after being petitioned by human rights lawyers. After being yanked before the gallows after 18 years on death row, and watching four other prisoners being hanged, Thankgod escaped execution in 2013 after prison officials realised that due to his conviction by a military tribunal, he did not qualify for suspension by ligature. This is probably one of those rare occasions when bureaucratic stupidity, saves lives. Thankfully, the intervention by human rights lawyers prevented him from being shot instead. (Perhaps as an act of appreciation, Thankgod should honour those who saved him by changing his name to Thankhumanrightslawyers).

In the other incident, an execution did sadly occur this weekend and concerns an Iranian women who from all accounts was convicted unfairly of murder, after she killed an intelligence officer for allegedly attempting to rape her. 26-year old Reyhaneh Jabbari  unfortunately found herself at the mercy of the Iranian justice system which is influenced heavily by religious fundamentalism, and is not known for its acts of humanity, but rather as the rubber stamp for the Islamic Republic’s hunger for death and misery.

Human rights activists failed to secure her release or get her sentence commuted. Reyhaneh Jabbari maintained her innocence right to the end and left a moving voice message for her mother. Here is the full text of the message translation translated by Iranian activists.

Dear Sholeh, today I learned that it is now my turn to face Qisas (the Iranian regime’s law of retribution). I am hurt as to why you did not let me know yourself that I have reached the last page of the book of my life. Don’t you think that I should know? You know how ashamed I am that you are sad. Why did you not take the chance for me to kiss your hand and that of dad?

The world allowed me to live for 19 years. That ominous night it was I that should have been killed. My body would have been thrown in some corner of the city, and after a few days, the police would have taken you to the coroner’s office to identify my body and there you would also learn that I had been raped as well. The murderer would have never been found since we don’t have their wealth and their power. Then you would have continued your life suffering and ashamed, and a few years later you would have died of this suffering and that would have been that.

However, with that cursed blow the story changed. My body was not thrown aside, but into the grave of Evin Prison and its solitary wards, and now the grave-like prison of Shahr-e Ray. But give in to the fate and don’t complain. You know better that death is not the end of life.

You taught me that one comes to this world to gain an experience and learn a lesson and with each birth a responsibility is put on one’s shoulder. I learned that sometimes one has to fight. I do remember when you told me that the carriage man protested the man who was flogging me, but the flogger hit the lash on his head and face that ultimately led to his death. You told me that for creating a value one should persevere even if one dies.

You taught us that as we go to school one should be a lady in face of the quarrels and complaints. Do you remember how much you underlined the way we behave? Your experience was incorrect. When this incident happened, my teachings did not help me. Being presented in court made me appear as a cold-blooded murderer and a ruthless criminal. I shed no tears. I did not beg. I did not cry my head off since I trusted the law.

But I was charged with being indifferent in face of a crime. You see, I didn’t even kill the mosquitoes and I threw away the cockroaches by taking them by their antennas. Now I have become a premeditated murderer. My treatment of the animals was interpreted as being inclined to be a boy and the judge didn’t even trouble himself to look at the fact that at the time of the incident I had long and polished nails.

How optimistic was he who expected justice from the judges! He never questioned the fact that my hands are not coarse like those of a sportswoman, especially a boxer. And this country that you planted its love in me never wanted me and no one supported me when under the blows of the interrogator I was crying out and I was hearing the most vulgar terms. When I shed the last sign of beauty from myself by shaving my hair I was rewarded: 11 days in solitary.

Dear Sholeh, don’t cry for what you are hearing. On the first day that in the police office an old unmarried agent hurt me for my nails I understood that beauty is not looked for in this era. The beauty of looks, beauty of thoughts and wishes, a beautiful handwriting, beauty of the eyes and vision, and even beauty of a nice voice.
My dear mother, my ideology has changed and you are not responsible for it. My words are unending and I gave it all to someone so that when I am executed without your presence and knowledge, it would be given to you. I left you much handwritten material as my heritage.

However, before my death I want something from you, that you have to provide for me with all your might and in any way that you can. In fact this is the only thing I want from this world, this country and you. I know you need time for this. Therefore, I am telling you part of my will sooner. Please don’t cry and listen. I want you to go to the court and tell them my request. I cannot write such a letter from inside the prison that would be approved by the head of prison; so once again you have to suffer because of me. It is the only thing that if even you beg for it I would not become upset although I have told you many times not to beg to save me from being executed.

My kind mother, dear Sholeh, the one more dear to me than my life, I don’t want to rot under the soil. I don’t want my eye or my young heart to turn into dust. Beg so that it is arranged that as soon as I am hanged my heart, kidney, eye, bones and anything that can be transplanted be taken away from my body and given to someone who needs them as a gift. I don’t want the recipient know my name, buy me a bouquet, or even pray for me. I am telling you from the bottom of my heart that I don’t want to have a grave for you to come and mourn there and suffer. I don’t want you to wear black clothing for me. Do your best to forget my difficult days. Give me to the wind to take away.

The world did not love us. It did not want my fate. And now I am giving in to it and embrace the death. Because in the court of God I will charge the inspectors, I will charge inspector Shamlou, I will charge judge, and the judges of country’s Supreme Court that beat me up when I was awake and did not refrain from harassing me. In the court of the creator I will charge Dr. Farvandi, I will charge Qassem Shabani and all those that out of ignorance or with their lies wronged me and trampled on my rights and didn’t pay heed to the fact that sometimes what appears as reality is different from it.

Dear soft-hearted Sholeh, in the other world it is you and me who are the accusers and others who are the accused. Let’s see what God wants. I wanted to embrace you until I die. I love you.

Reyhaneh

Another victory for radical religion

I’ll bet that the jihadist pigs who executed two teenage girls in the Somali city of Beledweyne yesterday, are feeling mighty proud of their stupendous achievement. Yes, it must have taken a lot of courage to execute two defenceless girls; with nothing but religious conviction and some bullets.

al-Shabaab, proponents of one of the strictest (most disgusting) forms of Islamic Sharia law, have been waging a war of attrition on the people of Somalia for many years now, turning the country into a wasteland, to mimic the barren emptiness of their crazy religious beliefs. The count of Shabaab’s violations against humanity must now be staggering – stonings, beatings, amputations, executions, bannings.

This is another shining example of how the toxic cancer known as fundamentalist religion can eat away brain cells, turning humans into wild beasts, who prey on other humans.

March on radical religion, gloat on your victory for now; you shall be chained soon enough, to be stoned to death…

Thou shalt not burn the book

I’ve been following with increasing annoyance, the furore surrounding Florida clergyman, Rev Terry Jones’ hypocritical threat to burn a pile of the Islamic holy book, the Quran on the anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy this Saturday.

The whole sordid episode raises some rather perplexing and disquieting questions about people and religion in particular:

  • Has it not occurred to the Reverend that burning of books, even one masquerading as the ultimate word of some cosmic father-figure, went out of fashion with the dark ages? Has it not struck him as hypocritical, not to mention childish for two religions, which are equally complicit in causing human suffering and misery, to have a go at each other.
  • Why would a person who supposedly preaches about love and understanding, ignore the pleas of practically the entire world (discounting the 50-odd congregants of his church and those irresponsible morons who donated what they think are 200-odd fire-bound Qurans), and insist on going ahead with this mad scheme?
  • What are the limits to free speech and expression? Should there be any in a free world?
  • Why is religion allowed to hold the world to ransom, every time some pathetically  insecure fool thinks that his all-powerful maker, prophet or clergyman is being denigrated? And more importantly, why doesn’t any all-powerful entity stand up for himself rather than allow puny, irrational, hot-headed humans to skirt up for him (or her, or it)?
  • Would the burning of the Bible or Bhagavad-Gita, or Torah or even the Scientology Handbook, elicit the same feverish response from competing faiths, as this incident did? What does that say about the evolution of some religions as opposed to others? What indeed does it say about the dangers of religious fervour?

Already, the response from the Muslim world is not good; burning of effigy’s and flags has commenced in predominantly Islamic countries, and protestors flock the streets spewing hatred for the Rev Jones, Christians in general and off course, the despised Western world. No doubt, the hatred is being reciprocated in equal measure by individuals and groups in the Western world.

Meanwhile the Rev Jones is still praying for guidance to his course of action. Somehow, I have this knowing feeling that he will get an answer from his god before Saturday dawns; which I am pretty sure will be to stall his foolhardy quest. He will off course claim the moral high ground. It’s the expected outcome in these crazy religious matters. Anyway, it’s highly likely that this was all just an elaborate stunt to create publicity for his poorly attended church.

Off course, I could be totally off the mark, and Jones could go ahead with the book-burning; he looks crazy enough to emulate all those suicide bombers before him.

Some musings on the Solstice

December 21 is usually the date when the Winter Solstice occurs in the Northern hemisphere and the Summer Solstice, in the Southern hemisphere. While the Northern hemisphere’s Winter Solstice is associated with many pagan religious festivals such as Saturnalia and Sol Invictus, which have helped spawn more modern religious festivals such as Christmas, there’s not too much in the Southern hemisphere that can be associated with the Summer Solstice, apart from glorious sunshine.

Recent happenings however, from around the Southern hemisphere has left me wondering if there is also a touch of madness in the air around the Summer Solstice. And the recent continuous spell of rainfall around South Africa has done little to dispel my suspicions.

Kismayo, a port city just south of the equator in war-torn and religiously divided Somalia is now being dragged back into the stone age by Islamist al Shabaab rebels, as well. The men of Kismayo have apparently been ordered to grow long beards, wear their trousers above the ankles and shave their moustaches. And this, after they’ve already banned musical ringtones, dancing at weddings, and playing or watching soccer. It’s also been reported that al Shabaab enforces this strict form of Islamic sharia law with executions, floggings and amputations. Just what Somalia needs; more religious stupidity to exacerbate their problems.

I can just imagine the rebels yelling at the townspeople ” lower beard, raise trouser! Or else!” And if as reported in October, al Shabaab are still handing out AK-47’s, F-1 hand grenades and ammunition as prizes, then Kismayo should surely be a sight to behold in a short while (if not already); crazy-eyed men in big fuck-off beards running around in ankle-length trousers, re-introducing the grandeur of the stone age to Africa. And does it not strike one as strange or even downright ludicrous to insist on a long bushy beard and no moustache? Has to be some unfathomable religious thing. But, I suppose if you were dragging your people back into the stone age, you would expect them to dress for the part.

Moving westwards, a mass demonstration is being planned by evangelical churches in Uganda, in support of the controversial new law being introduced to persecute and prosecute gays and lesbians. Troubled countries seemingly find ready support in obtuse religious ramblings, to persecute the poor populace and divert attention away from real problems. Perhaps a more constructive use of the law would be in bringing to book, Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army, a Christian military group responsible for gross human rights violations, murder, mutilation, abduction and sexual enslavement of children, while forcing them to participate in the armed conflict.

Further west, in Brazil, a man and his lover were arrested for inserting about 50 sewing needles into the body of his two-year old son over a period of time, in what appears to be a bizarre revenge ritual. The lover apparently believed that she could seduce the man away from his wife by coercing him into the dastardly deed, while entering into a trance-like state, no doubt inspired by the Afro-Brazilian Candomblé religion. This observation is born out by the fact that she sought out, and paid a practitioner of the Candomblé religion to bless the needles before the rituals were performed on the child. The things people do through religious conviction!

Meanwhile down in Sydney, Australia, city residents are up in arms over the secular stance adopted by their city over Christmas decorations and non religious greetings like Season’s Greetings, instead of Happy Christmas. They claim they are fighting back against the “political correctness” and “watering down of the historically accurate view of Christmas.” A council spokesman was further quoted as saying “Our community is fed up with this erosion of the true meaning and essence of Christmas through this ridiculous pre-emptive surrender of Christmas on the basis it may offend someone.” Perhaps if they conducted some basic research, they would have found out that their traditional view of Christmas is neither historically accurate or true; they would understand why the council had adopted the secular stance, while not exactly popular among Christians, is correct nonetheless. The celebrations around this time of year are of pagan origin, not Christian.

 Finally back to corrupt old South Africa. Convicted fraudster, Shabir Shaik must be hoping for a Presidential pardon in his Christmas stocking this year, after submitting his application recently. Paroled a short while ago, incredulously due to a terminal illness, Shaik has reportedly been seen driving around town shopping and visiting friends and family, in apparent violation of his parole conditions. Amazingly, he seems to have been cured, perhaps due to the warm South African sun or a good old-fashioned miracle. What’s even more amazing is the fact that the person supposed to be considering his parole, was the self-same person who Shaik was convicted of being in a corrupt relationship with; now the President of SA. Seems that conflict of interest just translates to window of opportunity in politics.

That’s enough craziness then, for one Solstice. To all those trying to come to terms with the insanity in this world, happy holidays.