Many of you might not know about him, but for me it’s hard to talk about him without getting emotional, even though I have never met him in person. The first time I heard his name was 3 years ago.
Back then, did I even know he was innocent? Not really, but my friend had assured me that Ali, a gifted student whose dream, at sixteen, was to represent Iran in the World Computer Olympiad, wasn’t the typical troubled kid, and honestly, I thought it was such a strong argument. All my life I have been in contact with nerdy math-lovers and I knew there was no way for someone as smart as Ali, someone who excelled in math, to attack and kill another kid.
I decided to help my friend and started sending letters to every humanitarian organization I found on Internet, so they could save him. Nazanin Afshin Jam’s Stop Child Executions (SCE) was the first one to offer their help; they even contacted their own lawyer in Iran to take over Ali’s case. This lawyer was Mohammad Mostafaei, that today everyone knows he is a fearless and passionate Iranian human rights attorney, and what this man is going through right now, that his wife and brother-in-law have been held captive by the Iranian authorities till he surrenders himself to the Revolutionary Court Branch in Evin Prison. And, I am certain that we are all outraged by what has happened to him and to his family.
If it wasn’t for SCE and the amazing work by Mr. Mostafaei, I am sure Ali had been executed at the end of that month. But, he survived that first round of hanging, and he survived the next ones too. At the end, Ali saved himself by writing this blog.
Meanwhile, The Amnesty International contacted the European Union and they warned Iran about Ali and the other kids in Iran’s death rows. Ali’s blogs had been published in an Iranian newspaper, and thousands of people, including a group of mothers of martyrs from Qom, tried to convince the victim’s father of his innocence.
His case became widely visible, but he still remained in prison, until a few weeks ago!
A week ago, I received an email from Nazanin that Ali was going to be freed. She said that the new judge that was assigned to his case had found too many anomalies in his dossier and new evidences of his innocence were presented to the court. This new turn of events had resulted in overturning the prior guilty verdict. But strangely, he should still pay blood money (about $70,000) to the family of the victim! [news]
A few days later, my cell-phone rang and there was this warm shaking voice who said, “Hi, I am Ali!” [Photos]
Of course, I cried, laughed, and wished to hug him virtually. He kept thanking me for writing that first article, but what surprised me the most was his genuine concern about Mr. Mostafaei, and his other friends on the death row. Knowing that his ordeal wasn’t yet finished, and he still could go back to prison if he doesn’t come up with the blood money, and knowing that his family has already spent everything for his freedom, I was shocked by his selflessness. “Don’t worry about the dieh,” he said. “I’m sure we’ll raise the money, because I am innocent and God is great.”
I was speechless, I didn’t know what to say, and I didn’t want to remind him of the other cases of “innocent” kids who were already dead. I also remembered Sina Paymard.
“Please be careful,” I told him and before saying goodbye he assured me that he was going to use this experience (of spending 7 years, 7 months and 11 days in prison for a crime he hadn’t committed) as his drive to become a good lawyer, like Mostafaei.
Even though he had specifically told me that he didn’t expect anything from me, but I couldn’t sit still, waiting, doing nothing and hope for the best. It seems, sometimes God is too busy and misses the chance of being great all the time. That’s why I am writing today, and I truly hope this article is going to be my last one about Ali Mahin Torabi! You have no idea how much I hope for him to disappear from the news section, to have a normal life, to forget the past, to fall in love, and to feel optimistic about his life. I hope that he’d go on with his education, to receive the right care, the right depression pills, the right therapist, so he wouldn’t end up like Sina Paymard. The boy who was pardoned by the family of the victim after he played the ney (Iranian flute) as his last wish, who went home, yet a year later committed suicide, because, I assume, that he had already died in prison and what returned home was not Sina, but just a shell, a hollow doll that only looked like him.
So please, please let us give Ali a chance. He is still alive. He has been studying in prison and he dreams of becoming a lawyer, to help other kids in death rows; kids like himself, because he’s been there, in their shoes.
But before everything else, at this point, he still needs to come up with 70 million tomans to pay the blood money; even though his innocence has been proven by the new judge assigned to his case. Honestly, I have no idea why an innocent man should still pay, and I wonder; who is going to pay him back his lost 7 years, 7 months and 11 days of nightmare? Who is going to calculate the amount of money that one’s life is worth?
But, I am too drained to ask why, so I only wonder. We are dealing with a justice system defined by Islamic Republic of Iran. So, I rather stop being logical. All I can do is to ask all of you to help Ali!
His family has set up bank accounts in his name in Iran and in the US:
Ali Mahin Torabi Benefit fund at Wells Fargo:
SWIFT CODE: WFBIUS6S
ROUTING #: 122000247
acct #: 5053801444
In Iran Ali Mahin Torabi’s account in Pasargad Bank in Rajaee Shahr: #3907-824-1139507-1
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