Around the world, shock and outrage has been the reaction to the news that Iran is preparing to execute Swedish-Iranian emergency medicine specialist Dr Ahmadreza Djalali. In a call from Evin Prison on 24 November, Ahmadreza told his wife Vida, who lives in Sweden, that he believed he may be executed in less than a week. He has been transferred into solitary confinement and it has been reported that he will shortly be sent to Rajai Shahr Prison where this draconian death sentence would be delivered.
Dr Djalali has been used as a bargaining chip as part of Iran’s hostage diplomacy. A dual national, illegally detained in solitary confinement with no access to a lawyer before being sentenced to death in October 2017. The court based their sentence for “corruption on earth” on “confessions” elicited after torture, threats to kill Ahmadreza Djalali’s wife and two young children, solitary confinement and his prolonged ill treatment.
The UN, EU, Council of Europe, European governments, worldwide academic institutions, civil society and thousands of individuals have all called for Dr Djalali’s release.
Swedish Foreign Minister, Ann Linde, contacted Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to appeal against this action to execute Dr Djalali from being carried out. She later commented on twitter,
“Sweden condemns the death penalty and works to ensure that the verdict against Djalali is not enforced”
UN experts Javaid Rehman, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran and Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions issued a statement saying:
“We are horrified by the reports that Mr. Djalali is soon to be executed by the Islamic Republic of Iran. His torture, arbitrary detention, death sentence and now reported imminent execution are unconscionable acts that should be condemned by the international community in the strongest terms. We urge the Iranian authorities to take immediate action to reverse this decision before it is too late.”
“The decision of the Iranian Government and judiciary to execute Mr. Djalali is completely reprehensible. On several counts, this would be a clear and serious violation of Iran’s obligations under international human rights law, especially the right to life. We urge the Islamic Republic of Iran to stop this execution immediately,”
Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Diana Eltahawy, said:
“We call on members of the international community to immediately intervene, including through their embassies in Tehran, to save Ahmadreza Djalali’s life before it is too late.”
“It is appalling that despite repeated calls from UN human rights experts to quash Ahmadreza Djalali’s death sentence and release him, the Iranian authorities have instead decided to push for this irreversible injustice. They must immediately halt any plans to execute Ahmadreza Djalali and end their shocking assault on his right to life.
Valerie Peay, Director of the International Observatory of Human Rights said:
“We stand in support of Dr Djalali and his family. Ahmadreza has already suffered gross injustice, pain and the cruel separation from his wife and two children. For three years he has faced a baseless death sentence while Iran has used him as a bargaining chip and sought to gain leverage with the international community by unjustly incarcerating Dr Djalali and other dual nationals. Now is the moment for the Islamic Republic to act to cease this action to execute Dr Djalali and instead, release him to return his life in Sweden with his family.”