Women’s Forum Against Fundamentalism in Iran
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Iranian regime killed the 19-year-old female journalist, Elham Afrootan
BOSTON, MA – On Thursday, February 16, 2006, Women's Forum Against Fundamentalism in Iran (WFAFI) released a statement regarding threats against the life of imprisoned Elham Afrootan, in Bandar Abbas city, Hormozgan province. Elham was charged for publishing a satirical article in a local weekly called "Tamadoun Hormozgan". While a religious judge in Bandar Abbass city issued an execution decree for Elham, WFAFI has just learned that Elham was brutally murdered in prison.
Elham was accused of publishing a satirical piece in the weekly paper which has been shut down since her arrest on January 29, 2006. The piece compares Ayatollah Khomeni to AIDS virus, saying that it "arrived in Iran in 1979", the year of the Islamic revolution. Titled: "Make the fight against AIDS public", the piece describes Iran’s former president, Mohammad Khatami, as "a remedy that allowed for the diffusion of the virus”. It also compares the current president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to "the virus in the first person" and describes Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC or the Pasdaran), the judicial authority and the ministry of intelligence and security (MOIS) as the "diffusion centers".
Although the editor of the weekly, Ali Dirbaz, faced no repercussions because of his ties to the regime, Elham faced torture and brutal murder in prison cell. Dirbaz, a parliamentarian who belongs to a faction close to Iran's president, Ahmadinehad, claims that Elham passed the piece for publication without his knowledge. Elham was immediately charged with insulting the founder of the Islamic Republic, an act that is punishable by death.
WFAFI has learned that Elham was severely tortured and murdered, in recent days,
with forced intake of bleach and cleaning products. The Iranian regime is trying
to portray her murder as a suicide.
Like Zahran Kazemi, Elham reminded the community of nations that the fundamentalist regime in Tehran has no respects for freedom of press, expression or association. Such acts of brutality can not be tolerated. Silence and lack of action is just as worse. Elham was a young and brave journalist who paid dearly for the freedom of expression and press.
WFAFI also urges the United States Secretary of State, Dr. Condoleezza Rice, to publicly call out Ahmadinejad’s regime for the murder of Elham Afrootan. Ahmadinejad, Ali Dirbaz (editor of the weekly), and the judge who issued the torture and death penalty must be held responsible for their crimes. The Iranian regime must be held responsible for the killings of its own citizens in the International Criminal Court.
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