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Delara Darabi

Delara Darabi
Born 29 September 1986(1986-09-29)
Rasht, Iran
Died 1 May 2009 (aged 22)
Conviction(s) Murder
Penalty Death sentence
Status Executed
Occupation Painter, Poet

Delara Darabi (Persian: دلارا دارابى) (S29 September 1986 – 1 May 2009) was an Iranian woman executed after being accused, together with her boyfriend, of murdering her father's female cousin and stealing her gold. She was convicted for murder and theft by the Iranian Supreme Court and was executed after five years imprisonment. She was 17 years old when the murder took place. Her boyfriend was 19 years old at the time of the murder and is serving a 10 year prison sentence for the crime.

Darabi spent five years in jail after her conviction. She initially confessed, but later recanted. She claimed her boyfriend, Amir Hossein, persuaded her to confess by convincing her that he would be executed (as she would not have been; being a minor).

On Death Row, Darabi having developed a love of painting at an early age completed several works that depicted her incarceration. As well painting became her refuge from psychological torment of incarceration and her way of asserting her innocence. In confinement she also wrote poetry; among her work is the poem entitled "Prison"; a highly sophisticated psychological and philosophical work on prison. A collection of her art was displayed at an exhibition in Tehran by supporters campaigning to release her. Darabi's lawyer, Abdolsamad Khoramshahi, had appealed against the sentence, arguing that her conviction had been based solely on her confession and that her trial had failed to consider vital evidence.



Darabi was born in the northern city of Rasht, in the province of Gilan. Before her arrest she was a high-school student. She had three sisters: Elaheh, Ghazale and Sheida. As of May 2009, Elaheh and Ghazale are college students. Her sisters were also born in Rasht.

Darabi was hanged in the morning of 1 May, 2009.

Trial and sentence

Darabi was tried by a lower court in Rasht, found guilty and sentenced to death. Her lawyer was Abdolsamad Khorramshahi. The sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court. She maintained her innocence, and claimed that she was under the influence of sedatives during the burglary. At this stage the Head of the Judiciary had the power to order a stay of execution and a review of the case. The boyfriend Amir Hossein has reportedly received a prison sentence of 10 years as an accessory to the crime.[1]

Amnesty International has made several public statements about Darabi.[2][3][4][5][6]

Darabi was a painter and wrote few poems during her life time. She had used her paintings and poems to express her feelings. In 2008 there was an exhibition of her paintings in Tehran and a similar exhibition was held in Stockholm in April 2007.[7][8][9][10][11]

Darabi attempted suicide by cutting her wrists on 20 January 2007. However her cell-mate noticed the incident and called for help. She was rushed to hospital, where she was revived.[12][13]

Petitions for clemency

An on line petition to save Delara from execution was drafted and circulated around the world.[14] The petition appealed to Iranian authorities, particularly the country's head of judiciary, to observe international treaties and standards and to commute Delara's sentence.

Amnesty International arranged for letters in support of Darabi to be sent to Iranian authorities.[15].

Background information

As a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Iran has entered into diplomatic commitments not to execute persons for offences committed when they were under 18. Nevertheless, since 1990, Iran has executed at least 18 people for crimes committed when they were juveniles. In 2005 alone, despite being urged in the January by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child to suspend the practice immediately, at least eight juvenile offenders were executed, including two who were still under 18 at the time of their execution. Before Darabi's, the last recorded execution of a juvenile offender, Rostam Tajik, was on 10 December 2005.[16]

On 9 December, Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, stated: "At a time when virtually every other country in the world has firmly and clearly renounced the execution of people for crimes they committed as children, the Iranian approach is particularly unacceptable... it is all the more surprising because the obligation to refrain from such executions is not only clear and incontrovertible, but the Government of Iran has itself stated that it will cease this practice."

For the last four years, Iran has been considering legislation to prohibit this practice, but despite this, over the past two years the number of child offenders executed has increased. Iran decided to prohibit juveniles executions for none-lethal offenses like drug trafficking, but for murder, death sentence remain mandatory even for juveniles and only the victim's family had power to grant clemency.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International say Iran executes the most juvenile offenders of any country, in breach of the UN Convention, which forbids the death penalty for crimes committed under the age of 18. Lawyers estimate 130 prisoners are on death row in Iran for offences committed as minors. Campaigners accuse the country of attempting to hide the practice by waiting until offenders pass the age of 18 before executing them. (19)


The head of the judiciary granted a two month stay of execution, which was disregarded by Rasht prison authorities.[17] Delara Darabi was executed in the early morning of 1 May 2009 at Rasht prison, without prior notification to her attorney. Just minutes before being hanged she made a desperate phone call to her parents asking them to save her, followed by a prison authority's voice telling her parents that the authority would easily kill their daughter and there was nothing her parents could do about it. [18] [19] The news of Delara's execution was announced on Twitter by human rights activist and lawyer, Lily Mazahery.[20]

See also


  1. ^ "Child offender at risk of execution", The Wire (London: Amnesty International) 37 (2): 4, 2007-03-01, ISSN 1472-443X, archived from the original on 2009-05-03,, retrieved 2009-05-03  
  2. ^ Iran: Death penalty/ legal concern: Delara Darabi (f), Amnesty International, 6 January 2006,, retrieved 2009-05-03  
  3. ^ Teen Gets Death Sentence for Resisting Rape, February 2006,, retrieved 2009-05-03  
  4. ^ Iran: Further information on death penalty / legal concern: Delara Darabi, Amnesty International, 31 July 2006,  
  5. ^ Iran: Quashing of child offender's death sentence highlights need for urgent legal reform, Amnesty International, 15 January 2007,, retrieved 2009-05-03  
  6. ^ Iran: Further information on death penalty / legal concern: Delara Darabi (f), Amnesty International, 27 April 2007,, retrieved 2009-05-03  
  7. ^ Delara Darabi paintings presentation,, retrieved 2009-05-03  
  8. ^ STOP Child Executions in Iran,, retrieved 2009-05-03  
  9. ^ Delara's painting exhibition: April 28, 2007 Amsterdam, 3 April 2007,, retrieved 2009-05-03  
  10. ^ Darabi, Delara (30 April 2007), Prison by Delara Darabiدلارا دارابى.... زندان,, retrieved 2009-05-03  
  11. ^ Darabi, Delara (2 May 2007), While Free: by Delara Derabi,, retrieved 2009-05-03  
  12. ^ Delara Darabi attempts suicide,, retrieved 2009-05-03  
  13. ^ (in Farsi), 2007,, retrieved 2009-05-03  
  14. ^
  15. ^ Stop child executions: Delara Darabi, Amnesty International, 1 May 2009,, retrieved 2009-05-03  
  16. ^ UA 306/05, MDE 13/075/2005, 6 December 2005  
  17. ^ Delara Darabi executed in Iran, Amnesty International, 1 May 2009,, retrieved 2009-05-03  
  18. ^ Tait, Robert (2 May 2009). "Outcry as Iran executes artist over juvenile conviction". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2009-05-03. Retrieved 2009-05-03.  
  19. ^
  20. ^

External links


Simple English

Delara Darabi (دلارا دارابى) (born September 29, 1986 - died May 1, 2009) was a Iranian girl, who was sentenced to death at age of 17. She was convicted for murder, despite her highly probably innocence and was executed by hanging.



Her case has raised controversy for number a reasons:

  1. Iranian Government had signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Convention on the Rights of the Child, and, according to this, no person under age of 18 could be sentenced to death; however, despite this, Iran had executed number of minors;
  2. Her guilty verdict is disputable:
    1. She had initially claimed responsibility for having murdered her father's cousin, Mahin Darabi, in order to protect her boyfriend Amir Hussein (age 19), because he told her that, because she was under the age of 18, she could not have received the death sentence. He was wrong. Amir Hussein recevied 10 years in prison for being Delara's "accomplice" in Mahin's murder, while Delara was sentenced to death.
    2. Delara was left-handed, and there is abundant evidence that the murderer was right-handed.

Delara's sentence was upheld by Iran's Supreme Court. The only person who could commute the sentence is Iranian Head of Judiciary, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi.

In January 2007, Delara attempted to commit suicide.

Darabi was kept in Rasht Prison. According to her family and attorney, she was severely beaten by prison guards and fellow prisoners and left with a broken arm. Conditions in prison were extremely poor, leading Delara to repeatedly file requests to be transferred to another prison with better sanitary and overall conditions. Her requests were not been answered.

Darabi was also a talented painter, poet and pianist. Her paintings were exhibited in Tehran and, recently, in Amsterdam.

She was executed May 1, 2009.

Campaigns to save Darabi

There was a petition on-line to save Darabi. A similar petition was started by Miss Canada 2003 Nazanin Afshin-Jam for another Iranian minor, Nazanin Fatehi, who was also sentenced to death. After worldwide attention and over 350,000 signatures Nazanin Fatehi was finally found innocent and freed. Amnesty International has also made many public statements and a letter campaign about Darabi.

Personal backround

She was born in city of Rasht (Province of Gilan), where she was a high-school student before her arrest. She had three sisters: Elaheh (21-year old), Ghazale (19) and Sheida (8). Elaheh and Ghazale are college students.

Her sisters were also born in Rasht.

Other websites


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