|Onlookers watching a public execution in Iran|
"It is all finished," the guard said.
On the other side of the thick brick wall of Raja'i Shahr prison near the Iranian city of Karaj Wednesday, the bodies of six Sunni men from Iran's Kurdish minority each hung from a noose.
Hamed Ahmadi, Jahangir Dehghani, Jamshid Dehghani, Kamal Molaee, Hadi Hosseini, and Sediq Mohammadi had been sentenced to death after being convicted of moharebeh, or "enmity against God."
Iran's Supreme Court upheld the men's death sentences in 2013 even though they denied any involvement in armed or violent activities, saying they were targeted solely because they practiced or promoted their faith. The authorities refused to review their cases despite changes to the penal code that should have compelled them to do so.
After the men's exhausted relatives heard of the men's deaths — family members had been standing by the prison's entrance throughout the night pleading with authorities not to carry out the executions — they cried and said they couldn't help but think of the final words they had exchanged with their loved ones at a brief meeting on Tuesday, while the condemned men were bound by chains and shackles.
Remaining as well are the final written words of Hamed Ahmadi, composed while he was imprisoned in a letter that was snuck out before his execution. In it, he paints a grim picture of his years on death row, living with the constant threat of execution.
On a cold autumn morning in November 2012, they woke me up and told me that I would be transferred to Sanandaj prison, [Kordestan province]. The usual practice was that those who had been sentenced to death were moved only for the implementation of their sentence. I felt the shadow of execution over my head. The whole ward gathered together. Back then there were 10 people on death row. Some were crying, some were deep in their thoughts. We thought that maybe they were just transferring us, but the looks of the guards said something different. They blindfolded and handcuffed the 10 of us, and pushed us into a bus while shouting insults.
I tried to think about my good memories to boost my spirits, but it is hard to think about happiness when you are only a step away from death. When we arrived, they took us off the bus and threw our belongings on the ground. It was raining, and the ground was covered in mud. They replaced our metal handcuffs with plastic ones, but tied them so tight that the hands of some of the men started to bleed. They removed our blindfolds and took us to a room with walls covered by handwritten notes written by condemned men before their executions. We washed for prayers and started to pray, seeking peace and solace.
I started to wonder if I was ever going to see my daughter again. She was born after I was imprisoned. I asked God to give strength to my family and wished they would let me at least say goodbye to them.
The door opened. Our hearts started to pound. The nightmare of death was coming true. They separated us from one another. Our spirits were sinking, and our fears were rising. Time was passing slower than it had in our entire lives. The night before, the TV had broadcast a documentary about us. Everyone thought this was a sign that our sentence was going to be carried out soon.
But 45 days went by. Every day, we thought we would be executed the next day, but no one came for us. We approached death 45 times. We said goodbye to life 45 times.
Just when we started to become hopeful that we were not going to be executed, when we felt we could start thinking about life again, our names were announced in the list of transferees to Raja'i Shahr prison. Again, the nightmare of death. Again, the repetition of the image of a man dangling from a noose in our head. There, they gave us light blue clothes that are for those who will be executed. The image of the execution scene did not leave me for a second. Three days passed.
I became completely disoriented. My brain did not work anymore.
Execution followed me and my family every second. My family was executed with me over and over.
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Source: Vice News, Raha Bahreini, March 6, 2015. Raha Bahreini is a human rights lawyer and Amnesty International's Iran researcher.
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