Saturday, November 25, 2006

Hanging caught on video reveals Iran's crackdown on dissidents

With a smile the young man emerges from a car and swaggers towards the camera, but his balance is off kilter because his hands are tied behind his back and he slips a bit on the grass.
He recovers and bends his gangly body with a laugh, looking for all the world like a teenager making a home video with friends. Another young man follows him, walking stiffly. Someone in a thin grey suit kisses both men on both cheeks and strolls off-camera.

Dozens of people are milling about. A crowd can be seen held back by barriers, but even the guards look relaxed, standing well back from the two with their hands bound. Two rusty cranes on flatbed trucks are parked on the grass, the ropes hanging from each are rough, tangled with knots and the noose at the end looks amateurish - like a random piece of rope washed up on a beach.

Almost casually someone puts the rope round the awkward youth's neck first, then the second, steps back and the cranes pull up the ropes. The second man's body is still, and the camera stays on the taller one until he stops moving, about six minutes.

The film shows the public hanging of Alireza Gorji, 23, and his friend Hossein Makesh, 22, in July in Broudjerd, Iran. According to official versions of the charges, they were put to death because they had behaved 'immorally'. The truth, according to anti-government campaigners, is that the two men were among increasing numbers of political activists being executed by Iran on trumped-up charges.

'Both these men had been involved in anti-government protests in their home town and everyone who watch the hanging knew this,' said a human rights observer in Tehran.

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