A new play in Tehran is drawing attention to Iran's legal policies permitting death sentences for minors (who, if condemned, can be executed after their 18th birthday). "The Blue Feeling of Death," a translation of the Farsi title, opened at the Arasbaran Cultural Center in June and has been quickly attracting attention with its emotionally charged take on a political subject, depicting seven such death row inmates and their families, each based on a true story. Moreover, the production is raising money in support of lawyers and social workers working to help teenagers on death row (Iran's legal system allows families of victims to save the prisoner).
But what is most remarkable, the The Associated Press reports today, is that the Iranian authorities have permitted the production, "a showcase of activist art against Iran's legal codes that allow death sentences for children," to go on as planned.
More on the production's plot and subjects:
The director Miri said 18 death row inmates - some as young as 15 - were interviewed to build the stage stories. He was inspired by a move by some judges to postpone carrying out the hangings for inmates once they reached 18 in hopes in persuading the victims' families to withdraw the punishment.
Among the stories in production are two young girls sentenced to death for killing their father when they were 12 and 15. The persons holding the key to whether the sentences would be carried out were an uncle, aunt and grandmother.
The Associated Press also reports on the emotional impact the play is having on both performers and theatergoers:
"I felt as if I was communicating the message of the play when I heard and saw the reactions from the audience," said Mina Karimi Jebeli, who played role of one of the young murderers.
"It was very emotional," said [theatergoer] Arezou Ziaei, 23. "I cannot believe that such people are waiting for death."
Iran is one of three countries—along with Saudi Arabia and Sudan—responsible for executing citizens for a crime committed before they turned 18, according to Human Rights Watch.