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Reyhaneh Jabbari’s emotional message to her mother before she was hanged for killing a man she accused of raping her

You have to read her words.

Reyhaneh Jabbari was sentenced to death in Iran after she was found guilty of murdering an Iranian official. That’s the court story. Her story is that her attacker was attempting to rape her and her attempts at self-defence cost him his life.

Her words in her final letter to her mother, upon discovering that her hanging had been scheduled, are heart-wrenching, upsetting, and reveal a complex understanding of what it means to be a woman in this world, especially in a country where the attitudes of men prevail. In her letter to her mother, Reyhaneh tells her mother that to be “ladylike” was wrong, that because she withheld her tears and didn’t become emotional through her trial she was viewed as a cold-blooded killer instead of a potential victim of assault. As Reyhaneh writes

“When this incident happened, my teachings did not help me. Being presented in court made me appear as a cold-blooded murderer and a ruthless criminal. I shed no tears. I did not beg. I did not cry my head off since I trusted the law.”

There has been a great deal of discussion recently about women who do not come forward about being harassed or violated, because they’re afraid of slander, public recrimination, or the law seeing the aggressor as the victim. Reyhaneh is a woman who placed her full faith in the law and the powers that govern it and the response was, by far, one of the worst-case scenarios.

/EMH

Originally published by The National Post on October 27, 2014. Written by National Post Staff.

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Reyhaneh Jabbari’s emotional message to her mother before she was hanged for killing a man she accused of raping her

National Post Staff | October 27, 2014 | Last Updated: Oct 27 9:18 AM ET

Reyhaneh Jabbari defends herself in court  in 2008, during her trial for the murder of a former intelligence official at a court in Tehran. On Oct. 25, 2014, Iran hanged Jabbari.
Golara Sajjadian/AFP/Getty ImagesReyhaneh Jabbari defends herself in court in 2008, during her trial for the murder of a former intelligence official at a court in Tehran. On Oct. 25, 2014, Iran hanged Jabbari.

A day after she was executed for premeditated murder, Reyhaneh Jabbari’s impassioned final message to her mother surfaced via a human rights group.

Jabbari — who was convicted in 2009 of murdering a former Iranian intelligence official she accused of raping her — was hanged on Saturday, despite calls from Amnesty International and United Nations to halt the execution. The official IRNA news agency quoted a statement issued by the Tehran Prosecutor Office Saturday that rejected the claim of attempted rape and said that all evidence proved that Jabbari had plotted to kill Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi in 2007, when she was 19.

On Sunday, the National Council of the Resistance of Iran posted this English translation of Ms. Jabbari’s last message to her mother, recorded in April:

Dear Sholeh, today I learned that it is now my turn to face Qisas (the Iranian regime’s law of retribution). I am hurt as to why you did not let me know yourself that I have reached the last page of the book of my life. Don’t you think that I should know? You know how ashamed I am that you are sad. Why did you not take the chance for me to kiss your hand and that of dad?

The world allowed me to live for 19 years. That ominous night it was I that should have been killed. My body would have been thrown in some corner of the city, and after a few days, the police would have taken you to the coroner’s office to identify my body and there you would also learn that I had been raped as well. The murderer would have never been found since we don’t have their wealth and their power. Then you would have continued your life suffering and ashamed, and a few years later you would have died of this suffering and that would have been that.

AP Photo/Golara Sajjadian
AP Photo/Golara SajjadianReyhaneh Jabbari in a Tehran police station in 2007.

However, with that cursed blow the story changed. My body was not thrown aside, but into the grave of Evin Prison and its solitary wards, and now the grave-like prison of Shahr-e Ray. But give in to the fate and don’t complain. You know better that death is not the end of life.

You taught me that one comes to this world to gain an experience and learn a lesson and with each birth a responsibility is put on one’s shoulder. I learned that sometimes one has to fight. I do remember when you told me that the carriage man protested the man who was flogging me, but the flogger hit the lash on his head and face that ultimately led to his death. You told me that for creating a value one should persevere even if one dies.

You taught us that as we go to school one should be a lady in face of the quarrels and complaints. Do you remember how much you underlined the way we behave? Your experience was incorrect. When this incident happened, my teachings did not help me. Being presented in court made me appear as a cold-blooded murderer and a ruthless criminal. I shed no tears. I did not beg. I did not cry my head off since I trusted the law.

You taught me that one comes to this world to gain an experience and learn a lesson and with each birth a responsibility is put on one’s shoulder

But I was charged with being indifferent in face of a crime. You see, I didn’t even kill the mosquitoes and I threw away the cockroaches by taking them by their antennas. Now I have become a premeditated murderer. My treatment of the animals was interpreted as being inclined to be a boy and the judge didn’t even trouble himself to look at the fact that at the time of the incident I had long and polished nails.

Iran hanged a woman on Saturday who was convicted of murdering a man she alleged was trying to rape her, drawing swift international condemnation for a prosecution several countries described as flawed.

Reyhaneh Jabbari was hanged at dawn for premeditated murder, the official IRNA news agency reported. It quoted a statement issued by the Tehran Prosecutor Office Saturday that rejected the claim of attempted rape and said that all evidence proved that Jabbari had plotted to kill Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi, a former intelligence agent.

How optimistic was he who expected justice from the judges! He never questioned the fact that my hands are not coarse like those of a sportswoman, especially a boxer. And this country that you planted its love in me never wanted me and no one supported me when under the blows of the interrogator I was crying out and I was hearing the most vulgar terms. When I shed the last sign of beauty from myself by shaving my hair I was rewarded: 11 days in solitary.

Dear Sholeh, don’t cry for what you are hearing. On the first day that in the police office an old unmarried agent hurt me for my nails I understood that beauty is not looked for in this era. The beauty of looks, beauty of thoughts and wishes, a beautiful handwriting, beauty of the eyes and vision, and even beauty of a nice voice.

My dear mother, my ideology has changed and you are not responsible for it. My words are unending and I gave it all to someone so that when I am executed without your presence and knowledge, it would be given to you. I left you much handwritten material as my heritage.

However, before my death I want something from you, that you have to provide for me with all your might and in any way that you can. In fact this is the only thing I want from this world, this country and you. I know you need time for this. Therefore, I am telling you part of my will sooner. Please don’t cry and listen. I want you to go to the court and tell them my request. I cannot write such a letter from inside the prison that would be approved by the head of prison; so once again you have to suffer because of me. It is the only thing that if even you beg for it I would not become upset although I have told you many times not to beg to save me from being executed.

The world did not love us. It did not want my fate. And now I am giving in to it and embrace the death.

My kind mother, dear Sholeh, the one more dear to me than my life, I don’t want to rot under the soil. I don’t want my eye or my young heart to turn into dust. Beg so that it is arranged that as soon as I am hanged my heart, kidney, eye, bones and anything that can be transplanted be taken away from my body and given to someone who needs them as a gift. I don’t want the recipient know my name, buy me a bouquet, or even pray for me. I am telling you from the bottom of my heart that I don’t want to have a grave for you to come and mourn there and suffer. I don’t want you to wear black clothing for me. Do your best to forget my difficult days. Give me to the wind to take away.

The world did not love us. It did not want my fate. And now I am giving in to it and embrace the death. Because in the court of God I will charge the inspectors, I will charge inspector Shamlou, I will charge judge, and the judges of country’s Supreme Court that beat me up when I was awake and did not refrain from harassing me. In the court of the creator I will charge Dr. Farvandi, I will charge Qassem Shabani and all those that out of ignorance or with their lies wronged me and trampled on my rights and didn’t pay heed to the fact that sometimes what appears as reality is different from it.

Dear soft-hearted Sholeh, in the other world it is you and me who are the accusers and others who are the accused. Let’s see what God wants. I wanted to embrace you until I die. I love you.

Reyhaneh,
April 1, 2014