New information about the pending executions in Iran

Finally, Doug Ireland has gathered some further information about the two Iranian men who are scheduled to be hanged on August 27 or 28:

The two condemned men, both 27 — whose names may be transliterated as Farad Mostar and Ahmed Choka — were sentenced by an Arak court for sexual assault with homosexual acts, or, in other words, rape. Mostar and Choka, who are said to be intimate friends and business partners in a music store, were accused of having sequestered and sexually violated a 22 year old man.

All this is according to the editors of an underground publication for Iranian gays who, out of fear, asked that their names and that of their publication not be used (as did all sources within Iran); they refer to the two men as “gays,” and add that that most of their information comes from a gay man within Arak. This source says that the man Mostar and Choka were accused of assaulting — known as Ali, an attractive student at Arak University — was known to be bisexual, and had been having difficulties with his family over his manner of dressing and his hairstyle, which did not conform to conservative religious standards. Ali’s father is said to be a high-ranking army officer with the title of sarhang, or colonel.

According to this same source, Ali told his father of the assault — and the father then took Ali to a physician to be examined for evidence of the rape and, subsequently, lodged a complaint against Mostar and Choka with the police. The two men were unable to pay the lawyer they had hired, and this same source asserts their legal defense suffered greatly from this fact.

Farshad Hoseini of the Netherlands secretariat of the International Federation of Iranian Refugees (IFIR) told me by telephone that the IFIR this week hired a prominent Tehran attorney, Khoram Shati, to represent the two condemned men and file an appeal of their death sentence to the Iranian Supreme Court.

[…]

According to multiple Iranian gay sources — both exiles I spoke to in France, Sweden, and the Netherlands who have been in touch with their friends in Iran, and some in Iran who have communicated directly by e-mail — there is an enormously heightened climate of repression and surveillance of same-sexers and homosexual activity in the wake of the hangings of two gay Iranian teens in the city of Mashad on July 19, previously reported in GCN. Even gay Iranians outside Iran are afraid of having their names used for fear of reprisals against their families and friends.

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As worldwide protests against the hangings of the two Mashad youths grew in both intensity and number, these Iranian sources suggest, the Islamic Republic — under its new, recently-elected, ultra-nationalist president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — has decided to show that it will not bend or knuckle under to foreign pressure on behalf of Iranian gays by stepping up its legal actions against same-sexers, including more executions. Iranian scholars who followed the presidential campaign tell me that the Western press failed to grasp the degree to which Ahmadinejad’s “morality” crusade — which included denunciations of imported Western “decadences,” like homosexuality — was just as crucial to his electoral victory as his populist economic appeals.

But Ireland also appends an important theoretical caveat to his text:

Finally, it is necessary to re-emphasize that there is always a problem of terminology when dealing with same-sex relations in Iran. As the noted gay historian Jonathan Katz remarked in his 2003 book, “Love Stories. Sex Between Men Before Homosexuality,” referring “to early nineteenth-century men’s acts or desires as gay or straight, homosexual, heterosexual, or bisexual“ places „their behaviors and lusts within our sexual system, not theirs.“ That is precisely the case with Iran today, where “gay identity” in the Western sense exists only among a tiny, well-educated element largely located in Tehran and a few other urban centers, despite a centuries-old literary and cultural tradition of same-sex love that has been entirely erased from consciousness in modern Iran.