Iraq planning to hang up to 126 women by year’s end
From former P-I foreign editor Larry Johnson’s blog, Looking for Trouble:
Iraq is planning to execute up to 126 women by the end of this year. At least 9 may be hanged within the next two weeks. Human rights groups say the only crime committed by many of these women was to serve in the government of Saddam Hussein. Others, according to human rights groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, were convicted of common crimes based on confessions that were the result of torture.
Amnesty reports that at least 1,000 men and women are now on death row in Iraq, a country that has one of the highest rates of execution in the world. Amnesty released the following appeal in late August:
“At least nine women under sentence of death in Iraq are now in imminent danger of execution, as Iraq’s Presidential Council has ratified their death sentences. Three other women have been executed since early June.
The authorities have transferred a number of women to the 5th section of Baghdad’s al-Kadhimiya Prison, which is where condemned prisoners are held immediately before they are executed…
One of the women now in imminent danger, Samar Saed Abdullah, was sentenced to death in August 2005 for the murder of her uncle, his wife and one of their children. She blamed her fiancé, saying he had committed the killings in order to rob her uncle. It is not known whether her fiancé has been arrested… At her trial, she alleged that after her arrest she had been held at a police station in Hay al-Khadhra in Baghdad and tortured by being beaten with a cable, beaten on the soles of her feet and subjected to electric shocks to make her confess…”
In an article written in September by CNN.com’s Arwa Damon, Samar Saed Abdullah describes her confession:
“They kept beating me, and they told me, ‘Say whatever we want you to say, and do not say anything else, and say yes, I was an accomplice to this crime.’ Although I had nothing to do with it. Finally, they made me sign a blank piece of paper, and they filled it out afterwards.”
An Iraqi organization, the Women’s Will Association, is trying to build an international coalition to put pressure on the Iraqi government to stop the executions immediately. This group and others suggest sending appeals immediately to representatives in Congress and to people and organizations like these:
Thomas Hammarberg, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights,
(United Nations) Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights,
Amnesty has suggested that urgent appeals be sent via the Iraqi embassy or diplomatic representative in your country, asking them to forward your appeals to Iraqi President Jalal Talabai.
Also, it can’t hurt to let the White House know what you think: