Skip to main content

Emotional last letter of hanged Reyhaneh Jabbari revealed in message to mother

Reyhaneh Jabbari sent a voice message to her family in April asking for her organs to be donated and no funeral to be held on her behalf
26-year-old Reyhaneh Jabbari was hanged on Saturday despite international outcry (Twitter/@Majstar)
Reyhaneh Jabbari, the 26-year-old Iranian woman who was hanged Saturday by Iranian authorities, released a will in a voice message recorded earlier this year it has been revealed.
 
In a heart-wrenching message sent to her family in April Jabbari explained that she had trusted Iranian law but instead been sentenced to death. She was hanged on 25 October despite international and local calls for the death sentence to be revoked - she had been convicted of the murder of a former Iranian intelligence agent she claimed tried to sexually assault her.
 
The text of her voice message, transcribed and circulated by Iranian activists, included a description of her experience in court where she “shed no tears” and “did not beg” since she “trusted the law”.
 
Jabbari asked her mother to donate her organs, assuring her that justice will be served in the “other world”.  
 
“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," she said in the voice message.
 
"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 to 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 statement read.
 
Amnesty International said in a statement issued late Friday that the young Iranian woman, an interior designer, was due to be executed for the 2007 stabbing of Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi.
 
Iranian actors and other prominent figures had appealed for a stay of execution, echoing similar calls in the West.
 
Iran's judiciary had given several deadlines for Sarbandi's family to spare Jabbari under an Islamic sharia provision that allows a death sentence for murder to be commuted to a prison term with the agreement of the victim's family.
 
But relatives of Sarbandi, a 47-year-old surgeon who earlier worked for the intelligence ministry, refused to grant clemency, demanding, according to Iranian media, that Jabbari tell "the truth."
 
A UN human rights monitor said the killing came in self-defence after Sarbandi tried to sexually abuse Jabbari, criticising her 2009 trial as "deeply flawed".
 
But a medical report, prepared for the judiciary and quoted by IRNA in its Saturday dispatch, said Sarbandi was stabbed in the back and that the killing had been premeditated. 
 
Efforts for a commuted jail sentence had intensified in recent weeks but Sarbandi's family and Jabbari remained at loggerheads over the circumstances of the killing.
 
According to Jalal Sarbandi, the victim's eldest son, Jabbari testified that a man was also present in the apartment where his father was killed but that she had refused to reveal his identity.
 
He told two of Iran's reformist daily newspapers, Shargh and Etemad, in April that his family "would not even contemplate mercy until truth is unearthed," specifically about who he accused was her alleged accomplice.
 
Jabbari's mother was allowed to visit her for one hour on Friday, Amnesty said, a custom that tends to precede executions in Iran.
 
According to the UN at least 850 people have been executed in Iran in the past 15 months.

Ahmed Shaheed, the UN rights rapporteur for Iran, told journalists in New York on Monday there had been a "surge in executions" which has given Iran the world's highest death penalty rate per capita.

The rapporteur said he was "shocked" by the hanging of 26-year-old Jabbari and explained he had repeatedly raised questions with Tehran about the fairness of her trial.  

The surge in executions shows that Rouhani has failed to deliver on campaign promises to improve the human rights situation in his country, a year after taking office, he said.

"He is unable to address the issues, unable to arrest this trend, to convert his promises which spoke to arresting this trend into action," said Shaheed.

The rapporteur suggested that Rouhani lacked political backing, in particular from parliament, to advance his rights agenda.

In his report to the 193-nation UN General Assembly, Shaheed also raised concerns over freedom of the press, noting that 35 journalists are currently behind bars in Iran.

At least 300 people are in prison for their religious practices including 120 Bahais and 49 Christians. 

The report also touched on a drop in the number of women enrolled at universities, from 62 percent in 2008 to 48 percent last year.

A UN General Assembly is expected next month to vote on a draft resolution put forward by Canada and other nations condemning rights abuses in Iran.