Reyhaneh and Sahar: Two young women, two prisoners – one prison cell, one fate

SaharklReyhaneh and Sahar – a friendship inside the death row

The true story of two young individuals whose fates have met by way of some sad events that happened in their lives. They don’t ask much of life. It’s their only wish to be allowed to live.

They want the cruel serpent that winds itself round their necks every night in their nightmares to disappear from their thoughts.

The preliminary events

We have already reported several times about Reyhaneh Jabbari, the young Iranian who has been jailed for 7 years now in the death row of a Teheran prison. The young woman had stabbed her assailant to death with a knife in an act of self-defence. He succumbed to his stab wounds on the spot. The judge has sentenced the young innocent woman to death by hanging. In April 2014 the UN Special Rapporteur of Human Rights Ahmed Shaheed intervened in Reyhaneh’s case: He demanded a revocation of the death sentence, a reissue of the process and he declared with reference to „reliable sources“ that the convicted woman had acted in self-defence.

The terrible beginning of a wonderful friendship

During the long years of her time in prison Reyhaneh has become acquainted with another young woman called Sahar Mohabadi Mofared who has been sentenced to death by hanging by the same judge. Reyhaneh has been in jail for 7 years and Sahar for 6 years. Both women share a dreadful fate. They support each other and are there for each other. They have nothing left to lose, their hearts are filled with pain and their bodies tired, their hands are empty and the path that lies before them seems much too long. In spite of everything they are there for one another and they fight for their liberty.

Each week they are unmeasureably glad if they survive the day of Wednesday. „Black Wednesday“ they call it. In the prison where they are being forced to sacrifice their youth, their lives and their dreams, each Wednesday the long way of suffering of a prisoner comes to an end on the gallows. A rope on the gallows with a fatal noose and an executioner wearing a black mask are his or her sole quiet company on that journey. In this way every Wednesday a life in the prison is put out like a candle and ceases to exist. It is then that the two friends sit down together and pray to God for the souls of the deceased and thank him that they have survived another Wednesday.

Sahar’s sad story

Sahar is 28 years old and has been in prison for a good 6 years. She is accused of having murdered her husband. Sahar was married for 4 years to her deceased husband. The marriage was not a happy one and things had been going wrong for quite a long time. Sahar’s husband kept oppressing her and humiliated her publicly. He refused to accept her rights and every time she complained and tried to make her way there were terrible scenes and he beat her. She was feeling unhappy and tried in every possible way to save her marriage, but her husband had already diverted his attention to other things and assigned his priorities elsewhere. His acts of physical and emotional abuse continued unabated until Sahar took her heart in both hands and filed for divorce.

This was a severe blow to the egotism of her husband. He tried every means to make her change her mind as he didn’t wish to be the one who is abandoned. She tried again and again to come to a friendly accord with him about the divorce, but in vain. He became more and more brutal and continued his ill-treatment of her. He even threatened her with a knife in order to frighten her. They had lived apart for a long time. Sahar was frightened that he would eventually carry out his threats that „blood would be shed“, and out of fear she carried a knife with her so as to be able to defend herself.

One evening Sahar went to the teahouse where he used to meet up with his friends intending to ask of him her birth certificate which she needed for the divorce. He started to quarrel once again. He beat her and threatened her with a knife. As he tried to stab her, she pulled her knife out and hit him in the breast. He fell into a shop’s window which broke. The bystanders didn’t assist him and they didn’t call an ambulance immediately. Sahar had been injured also and she was in a state of shock. When the ambulance arrived her husband had bled to death. The weapons implied – two knives – couldn’t be secured by the police.

Sahar’s process lasted only 15 minutes and Judge T. – the same judge who returned his verdict against Reyhaneh in a similarly short timespan – convicted Sahar to death despite the circumstances, the background story and contrary to the witnesses‘ accounts. Thus rapidly and simply can a judge decide about either life or death of a human being. Innocent or not, was of no importance.

The wrong-headed logic of a judge

His reasoning in Reyhaneh’s case was as follows: The victim was stabbed to death from behind, the weapon was stuck in his back and it happened at his practise, ergo: murder! Death on the gallows!

His reasoning in Sahar’s case was: The victim was stabbed to death from in front, the knife was stuck in his chest and it happened in the street, ergo: murder! Death on the gallows!

The aspects of „self-defence“ and „fairness“ don’t seem to matter much at these law courts. In the past inside the same court rooms two girls of 11 and 13 years and a woman of 16 have been sentenced to death (!) by Judge T. – for different reasons.

No time left to live

An appeal on points of law was refused in Sahar’s case. The innocent 28-year-old woman has already resigned all her hopes. She is frightened – frightened of the „Black Wednesday“. Every day it might be too late.

Her friend Reyhaneh hasn’t given her up yet. On visiting day she begged her mother to do something for Sahar. She can’t bear this injustice any longer.

Telephone conversation between Reyhaneh and her mother Shole

Shole: How are you, Reyhaneh? You keep talking about Sahar all the time. I can’t take it any longer. I am only a human being as well. Still another sad story, still more worries. My brain has no space left for more sadness. My shoulders can’t carry more weight. One day I’m going to break down under all this weight.

Reyhaneh: I can’t understand you, and I never will. How can you sleep at night, how can you, as a wise woman, pretend to be stupid? Time is running out and it’s like a blink of an eye. You can sleep later, now we have no time to lose. Please do something. Try to speak to Sahar’s parents-in-law.

(In Iranian law, if the claimants – in this case Sahar’s parents-in-law who have lost their son – reprieve the accused, the death by hanging-verdict isn’t carried out.)

Shole: But I went so see them so many times. They have never let themselves be influenced neither by me nor by the situation and their hearts are also…! I have no more words left I could possibly speak to them. Had they ever given Sahar a single thought, the poor woman would have been home for long now!

Reyhaneh: Please, mama. For God’s sake go to their place again and beg them again to reprieve Sahar.

Shole: „I was thinking by myself: How can I make my beloved daughter see that I have already tried so hard, and they just keep blocking all the time! What can I do? Who can help us to save the life of a young woman?“

Shole: Allright, my dear. I will try.

Reyhaneh: Friday evening they brought a woman from our row into the solitary cell and Saturday morning they beh…ed her! She is dead! Please, mama… I fear for Sahar!

Shole: And I fear for you and Sahar!

Rescue Sahar… Rescue Reyhaneh…

Reyhaneh keeps fighting for her friend despite the fact that she is herself an inmate of the death row. She is courageous and she has a heart of gold. On Sept. 4th she phoned her lawyer, Mr. Jedari Foroughi, from inside the prison and begged him to rescue Sahar.

It is better to light one small candle than to curse the darkness. (Confucius)

Let us become a bright shining light for Reyhaneh and Sahar, so as to turn the darkness in their lives, in their hearts and in their thoughts into a warm light of hope.

Netzfrau Sharareh Fekri

We, the German Netzfrauen will inform Amnesty International, the UN Human Rights Council and other institutions about Sahar’s Story. We will keep up to date. Meanwhile, we ask you to participate in the following action.

Please write mails and / or Twitter or fax messages with the following text:

Subject: Death penalty Sahar Mohabadi Monfared

Your Excellency,

„I strongly urge you not to execute Sahar Mohabadi Monfared. Please also ensure that a court will check her case immediately with the aim to revoke the death sentence. I want to remind you that according to Article 6 (4) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Iran has signed, any person sentenced to death has the right to seek for mercy or commutation of the sentence. I would like to remind you that according to the provisions of international law death penalty may only be imposed for „worst crime“, i. e. „intentional crimes with lethal outcome“ and the court procedures must comply with international standards for fair trials.“

Yours faithfully
(Your name)

The message should be addressed to the following persons:

Religious Leader
Your Excellency / excellence
Ayatollah Sayed ‚Ali Khamenei

Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani
[c / o] Public relations Office, Number 4
Subject: FAO Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani
(Salutation: Your Excellency / excellence)

Copy to:

The Presidency / President
Hassan Rouhani
Twitter:HassanRouhani (English)

Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran
S.E. Mr. Alireza Sheikh Attar
Fax: 030-8435 3535

The life of Sahar is in acute danger. Therefore, please write as soon as possible, in good Persian, Arabic, English, French or German. Of course you can also write a personal message. Please respect the rules of politeness. Accusations or insults are strictly to be avoided, as they may harm the accused.

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