Iran: Life of Maryam Ghorbanzadeh in Danger, Forced Abortion at Six Months


According to Javid Kian, the lawyer for 25 year old Maryam Ghorbanzadeh, in a letter to Judiciary intelligence and security, judicial officials (most notably Saeed Mortazavi) decided that the case of Maryam Ghorbanzadeh needs to be resolved so they could deal with Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani’s case. Javid Kian tells Rooz that “all the attention is focused on the Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani case, and in the midst of it all, the life of Ms. Ghorbanzadeh is at risk.  In the wake of protests against Ms. Ashtiani’s stoning sentence, [authorities] changed the stoning sentence for Ms. Ghorbanzadeh to death by hanging. The ruling was sent to the department that processes death sentences.  She can be executed any moment now.”

Javid Kian explains that Ms. Ghorbanzadeh’s case is similar to Sakineh’s. Ghorbanzadeh was facing death by stoning, but after international protests against Ashtiani’s case, Mr. Nobakht, the Tabriz Vice-Attorney General, sent the case to branch 12 of the Provincial Criminal Court under the pretext that the case may cause too much noise and deface the image of Islam. The branch in question changed the stoning sentence to death by hanging.

Javid Kian added, “All I can do is demand for the case to be reopened and ask for a retrial, and I have done both. But, it is unclear whether they will accept my request or not. Unfortunately, the case is currently in branch 7 which processes death sentences.”  Kian explained how and why his client was arrested: “Ms. Ghorbanzadeh’s husband was extremely paranoid to the point that he would make Ms. Ghorbanzadeh take sleeping pills every day before he left home, and he would lock her up in the house while he was out. He had been divorced twice by his ex-wives for this disorder. All the facts are available in the case. Ms. Ghorbanzadeh was not able to leave home for months until finally she began a relationship with a man who eventually became her husband’s killer. I have to point out that she had no role in the murder and the murder had nothing to do with her. The murderer is free on bail.  After the murder, Ms. Ghorbanzadeh entered a temporary marriage (siqah) with the new man. The certificate of the temporary marriage is also available. However, the family of the victim, who was after the inheritance without giving anything to Ms. Ghorbanzadeh, arranged for her [temporary] husband to be arrested. A house search uncovered a sex tape of Ms. Ghorbanzadeh and her temporary husband. The film is used as evidence by the judge in branch 12 to issue a stoning sentence. Our argument that the defendant and the man are officially married was not taken into account. The judge claims the film’s content was recorded when Ms. Ghorbanzadeh was married to her [first] husband, and that the date on the film indicates that it was recorded before [he was murdered].”

Abortion at the end of the second trimester

Javid Kian states that Ms. Ghorbanzadeh was pregnant when she was arrested: “When Maryam was six months pregnant, they forced her to have an abortion so they can execute her, since they are not allowed to execute a pregnant woman. We protested vehemently against this act, and argued that the fetus is considered a person at the end of the first trimester. We said that destroying the fetus is considered murder, but they did not pay any attention to our protest. The controversy around Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani’s case has resulted in Maryam’s case to speed up. Maryam has to pay the price now.”

Kian describes the emotional and psychological state of her client as very bad. He said, “Unfortunately, Maryam’s emotional state is not good at all, and after the abortion, it has worsened. Now that she is at risk of execution, you can only imagine what she is going through.”

TAKE ACTION: It is Time to Remove the Islamic Republic from the UN Commissionon the Status of Women (incl. sample letters and addresses)

Report Originally Published in Persian by Rooz Online | August 12, 2010

Translation SIAVOSH JALILI for Persian2English