As the world turned its attention to the protests erupting in the Arab world, the Islamic Republic of Iran quietly executed mass numbers of prisoners accused of conspiracy against the regime. Saeed Malekpour, a Richmond Hill computer programmer, web developer, and permanent Canadian resident, is one of two people whose death sentences were sent to the Supreme Court for confirmation and approval on January 29, 2011. He has not been executed yet, but his life hangs in the balance.
From December 20, 2010, to January 30, 2011, the Islamic Republic of Iran executed 118 people – more than the previous twelve months combined. Executions in Iran often happen secretly, or with little warning: In late January, Dutch-Iranian citizen, Zahra Bahrami, was executed when the Dutch Government did not take quick, decisive action in her defense. The Canadian Government must not let this happen to Saeed.
Saeed Malekpour and his wife, Fatima Eftekhari, moved to Canada in 2004 where Saeed worked as a freelance web developer, writing code that allowed website designers to upload photos to websites. Unbeknownst to him, his program was later used to upload photos to an adult website. While visiting his ailing father in Iran in October 2008, Saeed was arrested and charged with “taking action against national security by designing and moderating adult content websites,” “agitation against the regime,” “contact with foreign entities,” and “insulting the sanctity of Islam.” He has since been held in Tehran’s Evin Prison for _ months, including twelve spent in solitary confinement.
While in Evin Prison, Saeed was tortured and forced to make a false confession that was aired on State-run television in order to turn public opinion against him. In March 2010, Saeed wrote a letter to Tehran’s prosecutor detailing the tortures he had suffered that included severe beatings resulting in broken teeth and a dislocated jaw, being lashed with cables, electric shocks and threats of rape. Worse even than the physical tortures were the psychological tortures; Saeed had to endure lengthy solitary confinement, the threat of execution and the threat of arrest and torture of his wife and family members. Saeed was humiliated and balked at by prison guards as they led him to believe that his wife was arrested and being tortured, and told him of his father’s death forty days after he had died.
After the letter received no response, Saeed’s wife made the text public in hopes of receiving help from the international community. As punishment, Saeed has since been returned to solitary confinement, subjected to further torture, and now faces the additional charges of “propaganda against the Islamic Republic,” and “conspiring with his spouse against national security.” In November 2010 Saeed was sentenced to death.