A shocking and disturbing amateur video documenting a recent public execution from the Islamic Republic of Iran has recently emerged and gone viral since its release.
In this video, a young man is going to be publicly hanged in the city of Karaj, near the capital city of Tehran, on February 25th. The hanging is held in front of a large crowd that has gathered to watch the execution. Until now, there have been no reports identifying the name of the person who is about to be executed or the precise charges brought against him by the Islamic judiciary court of Iran.
Before being executed, it appears in the video that the young man is pleading with and begging the regime executioners, guards, and henchmen to allow him to receive a final embrace from his mother who is also in the crowd. His mother’s voice can be heard, yelling to her son and raising her voice in a sign of protest against the regime and this act.
As usual, the Iranian regime’s henchmen and the Islamic guard, who are preparing for the commencement of the public execution, deny the man his final request. After the denial, the prisoner becomes defiant, visibly agitated, and publicly attempts to resist the start of the execution process.
The prisoner repeatedly kicks over a ladder that was going to be used for his execution, and struggles against the guards. At some point he lashes out, breaks his handcuffs, wrestles away from his guards, and tries to escape from the Islamic guard around him.
What is intriguing in this scenario, though, is that the same crowd that has gathered to watch the execution starts cheering the resistance of the young man and his attempt to escape. The regime guards protecting the scene began yelling at the crowd to be quiet and to move back.
Soon after, in this powerful scene, the man is savagely beaten into submission by swarms of Iranian and Islamic guards, his body was lifted onto a podium, hoisted onto the ladder, and the execution noose was forcefully wrapped around his neck. Even after the noose is placed around his neck, and even after the beatings, the young man’s spirit appears to remain resistant and defiant. An Iranian man in the crowd can be seen at the end of this public execution pointing out, “Regardless of his crime he should have been allowed to see his Mother.” Some people in the crowd are heard saying to the regime henchmen to forgive him.
Hamid Yazdan Panah makes anintriguing argument by referring to Michelle Foucault who stated, “The public execution is to be understood not only as a judicial but also as a political ritual. It belongs, even in minor cases, to the ceremonies by which power is manifested.”
Iran is ranked number one, surpassing China and North Korea, in leading the world in executions per capita. Hundreds of people, including women, human rights activists, and political activists, have been executed since January 2014. Recently, the United Nations human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani referred to the rise of executions in the Islamic Republic by saying, “the surge in the use of the death penalty … has dampened hopes for human rights reforms under President Hassan Rouhani.”
But the major question revolves around why the Islamic Republic of Iran and its judiciary system insist on conducting public executions in the modern era? The logic, ritual and rationale of public execution is also well illustrated by Foucault in his work Discipline and Punishment, an analysis of 18th century. According to the argument Mr. Yazdan Panah makes, Michelle Foucault points out:
It is a ceremonial by which a momentarily injured sovereignty is reconstituted. It restores that sovereignty by manifesting it at its most spectacular. The public execution, however hasty and everyday, belongs to a whole series of great rituals in which power is eclipsed and restored… Its aim is not so much to re-establish a balance as to bring into play, as its extreme point, the dissymmetry between the subject who has dared to violate the law and the all-powerful sovereign who displays his strength.
And if you are questioning why the Iranian people gathered around the scaffold to watch the execution, it is not because people enjoy watching other human being be executed. As Foucault states, “If the crowd gathered round the scaffold, it was not simply to witness the sufferings of the condemned man or to excite the anger of the executioner: it was also to hear an individual who had nothing more to lose curse the judges, the laws, the government and religion.”
The fact of the matter is that the Islamic regime of Iran utilizes its judiciary system and its Islamic/Sharia laws to repress its population by imposing horror and fear on the society and punishing defiance and resistance through acts such as public execution. In addition, the so-called moderate Rouhani has ratcheted up the rate and number of executions in Iran. As Shamdasani pointed out, “It appears at least in the past seven weeks that in fact executions have been scaled up.”
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