Zahra Esmaili, a woman who was sentenced to death by hanging and died after having a heart attack while watching 16 men get killed before her, was sentenced to death by hanging. The Iranian woman and her two children were reportedly treated badly by her abusive husband. When she finally lost it, on July 16, 2017, she shot and killed a senior Ministry of Intelligence official. Her kids, who said they were sleeping in their rooms at the time, were arrested as co-conspirators. Her daughter got five years in prison, while her son was cleared and let go.
Iranian rights groups said in February of last year that Zahra had died. A human rights group told The Mirror that a few days later, her lawyer, Omid Moradi, said that Zahra had a heart attack right before she was hanged. Moradi said that she died “after seeing 16 men be killed in front of her.” Even though she was already dead, the cruel guards hung her body and her husband’s mother kicked the stool out from under her.
Moradi said that her death certificate said she died of a heart attack, but officials tried to hide the truth by putting out a story that said she didn’t die of a heart attack. The officials added a horrifying detail by saying that her son had helped her mother-in-law help the man who was going to hang her. Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, who is in charge of human resources in Iran, talked to The Mirror about how the regime uses the threat of execution to make people afraid.
Moghaddam said, “And this is what they want to happen. And the message is always the same: “Follow our rules.” You can have this happen to you. “That’s the point.” Most killings happen behind closed doors, Mahmood said, so it was unusual for the officials to make Esmaili’s case public and say that her son helped them do something cruel. He also asked why the leaders of Iran ban most civil rights but let ordinary people choose between life and death. He asked, “Then how can they let a regular citizen be in charge of killing someone?” They get people to agree with what they are doing.”
In the last few years, people have asked Western powers to talk about Iran’s use of the death penalty and other violations of human rights as part of their talks about the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.