Iran Human RightsHope in art for Iran's Death Row children

Hope in art for Iran’s Death Row children

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METRO: Myspace, Flickr and other Internet networking sites are usually just a fun way of sharing stories and pictures. METRO

JOHN HIGGINSON

Myspace, Flickr and other Internet networking sites are usually just a fun way of sharing stories and pictures.

But for the children on death row in Iran they offer a tenuous lifeline to the world while they wait to be executed.

Human rights group Amnesty International has set up MySpace and Flickr accounts for the condemned children for them to be able to talk to people beyond the walls of their cells.

Artist Delara Darabi was just 17 when her boyfriend persuaded her to confess to a murder committed during a burglary.

He convinced her that she could not be executed because of her age but she was sentenced to death in 2005.

They also both received three-year jail sentences and 50 lashes for robbery, and 20 lashes for an ‘illicit relationship’.

Now 20, Darabi paints in her cell using her fingers and nails as paint brushes as she awaits her execution.

She tried to commit suicide in January and it is thought she receives frequent beatings.

She says on her Flickr page: ‘I try to defend myself using colours, forms and words. From behind the walls, I say hello to you, who has come to see my paintings?’

Musician Sina Paymard, who was convicted of murdering a teenager when he was 16, is another death row inmate.

He came very close to the gallows a few days after his 18th birthday in September 2006 but was granted a last-minute reprieve by the family of his victim, who were moved by his playing of the ney (a Middle Eastern flute), which was his last request.

But then the victim’s family demanded blood money, which Paymard’s family could not afford.

Iran has signed an international treaty promising not to execute minors. Instead it imprisons them until they are 18 before ordering their deaths.

But Amnesty International says Iran even fails to keep this promise and, last year at least one 17-year-old, Majid Segound, who killed a friend in a fight, was executed in public.

Iran executed 177 prisoners last year. At least 24 children remain on death row.

To join the protest, click on to www.stopchildexecutions.com

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