Thursday, November 01, 2007

When 14 turns out to be 21

The headline of the post was eye catching..."If a 14-year-old boy is hanged in Iran, does anybody hear it? . It gets better as you read, and the call for action got the attention of this cynic reporter. There is only one problem...he is 21.
Now, I don't know what I think.
A bit of background is in order. Makwan Moloudzadeh has been sentenced to death by hanging. He is accused of anally raping a 13 year old boy. He himself was 13 at the time. Several of the witnesses against him have recanted their testimony.
This is the sort of thing the government in Iran does. There was a well documented case of some teenagers hung to death for the crime of homosexual acts.

My first comment was a bit of this and that, about how we might be doing more harm than good by if the beards in Iran care what a slack blogger in Georgia thinks. Nonetheless, my conscience told me I should do something, and so I looked at the Amnesty International report...and found the news that Makwan Moloudzadeh was born in 1986. He was 13 at the time of the alleged rape. He was not 14, as the bloodcurdling headline read, but 21.
Now, to be executed at 21 for something you did (supposedly) when you were 13 is reprehensible. However, it does not have the same sting to it as hanging a 14yo. Discovering that error was an AHA moment. It made me question a few more things about the case.
"The headline of this piece is not accurate. Mr. Moloudzaden is 21, not 14.
The alleged rape occurred in 1999, when both Mr. Moloudzadeh and the reputed victim were 13.
Now, this raises all sorts of questions, which go above and beyond the (fairly certain) mistreatment of Gays in Iran...even if Mr. Ahmadinejad's translator said these peeps don't exist.
To execute someone eight years after the fact ,for a crime committed at age 13, is pretty outrageous. Even for a rowdy regime like the one in charge in Iran.
I suspect there is something about this we are not being told. Is Mr. Moloudzadeh a dissident, or the relative of dissidents? Is he accused of something else? Why would a government pull a charge like that out of the archives?
If there is more to this story, then it does not speak well for Amnesty International to be publicizing it. Maybe they are the organization that needs a bit of scrutiny.
Or maybe they are trying to curry favor with the Government in Washington. There is little doubt that some elements of our government would like to see military action against Iran. We are in a pre war phase, where one of the goals is to create ill will against the enemy du jour. While it is true that our government will not nuke Iran to save gays ( We destroyed that village to save it), stories like this will create ill will against the government there, and could, in the long run, contribute to military action against Iran. And yes, this action would kill a lot of civilians.
If we really want to help the gays in Iran, maybe we should insure that Amnesty International is not exploiting them for their own purposes.

I just may have gone too far with that comment. I looked at the Amnesty Website a few minutes ago( the parts that were working), and saw no mention about Mr. Moloudzadeh on the home page, or the "take action" page. I don't know how or why it is getting the attention it is getting here.
I do stand by my statement that Amnesty International is not above suspicion. While they do have a long history, they can make mistakes. Also, many such organizations can get more into turf battles and fund raising than the actual work they exist for.
There is also the possibility that Amnesty is seeking to give the appearance of "balance". Since I imagine they are concerned with the issue of torture and other abuses by the American war machine, it might be a good idea to look at the practices of the enemies of America.
But, so much of this is the disappointment in finding out that Mr. Moloudzadeh is seven years older than first represented. The idea of executing a teenager is abhorrent to most of us, and gets a lot of attention. I felt I had been led on when I found out he was really 21, even though the facts are essentially the same.
Sometimes images are more important than the reality behind them. It can hurt your ability to trust when you find out they are not completely true.

Later in the day....
I wrote the above stuff at lunch. I get home to discover a post by AtlMalcontent about my "warped world view " ( Is that the new publication from the people who gave us "Weekly World News"?)
First, though, I wanted to take another view at the Amnesty website. Apparently the Moloudzadeh situation is not a priority with Amnesty International. It is not mentioned on the home page or the "Act Now" page. I don't know how many cases they are following now, or what the criteria are for being listed.
I may have been in error in suggesting that Amnesty was currying favor with the Bush administration. I maintain that they are not above suspicion, and do sometimes make mistakes.
I also say in my defense that I used the phrase "maybe" to describe this suspicion. This is not the same as a hard core accusation. And, If I hadn't had the AHA moment of discovering thatMr. Moloudzadeh is 21 instead of 14, I might not have even speculated about the role of Amnesty International.
Now, for the rest of this. When I say that persecution of Gays in Iran is "Fairly certain", I mean exactly that. How this is being taken for a sign of doubt is puzzling.
"Wouldn't you be at least a little concerned if they acquired nuclear weapons?"
Yes, I would, but I am also concerned that our government is using that issue to rush us into another disastrous war. I also fail to see the connection between Mr. Moloudzadeh and nukes...except that Mr. Moloudzadeh is a Kurd, and would probably be early victims of an Iranian nuke.
And, for the record, I think the scheduled execution of Makwan Moloudzadeh is a disgrace. To execute a MAN for a crime committed when he is 13 years old is horrible. The fact that it is because of Gay Sex only makes it worse. Affairs like this are an argument against the death penalty, no matter what kind of society it is in. This affair speaks very poorly for Iran.

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