Channel 4′s decision to allow Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to deliver the Alternative Christmas message is aiding and abetting a homophobic tyrant says gay rights campaigner and Green Party Parliamentary Candidate Peter Tatchell.

President Ahmadinejad is a torturer and a murderer. His regime executes gay people, children, journalists, Sunni Muslims, political dissidents and ethnic minorities. This is the equivalent of giving Robert Mugabe a prime-time television slot to promote his propaganda. It is an insult to more than 100,000 Iranians who have been slaughtered since the Islamic fundamentalists seized power in 1979

Channel 4 should pull the plug on this criminal despot, who ranks with Robert Mugabe, Omar al-Bashir of Sudan and the Burmese military junta as one of the world’s most bloody rulers.

Iran has the death penalty for same-sex relationships. US journalist Doug Ireland has documented the arrest, jailing, flogging and execution of gay Iranians:

Channel 4 executives would not being giving Ahmadinejad this propaganda coup if it was their partners or children who were being tortured in Evin prison, Tehran.

This Christmas in Iran, thousands of families are grief-stricken. Their loved ones have been jailed, tortured and executed. Instead of inviting one of them deliver The Alternative Christmas Message, Channel 4 is giving airtime to the man responsible for their loved ones’ suffering.

According to Channel 4′s advance text of President Ahmadinejad’s broadcast, his speech includes the following:

“Jesus, the Son of Mary, is the standard bearer of justice, of love for our fellow human beings, of the fight against tyranny, discrimination and injustice…. If Christ were on earth today, undoubtedly He would hoist the banner
of justice and love for humanity to oppose warmongers, occupiers, terrorists and bullies the world over…. I pray for the New Year to be a year of happiness, prosperity, peace and brotherhood for humanity.”

Ahmadinejad’s soft words are pure propaganda. They bear no relationship to the bloody, repressive policies that he is pursuing against his own people, gay and straight.

Trade union, student and women’s rights activists are beaten, jailed and tortured. His government is pursuing a racist, ethnic cleansing policy against Iran’s minority nationalities, such as the Arabs, Kurds and Baluchs.

According to Human Rights Watch, in March this year an Iranian parliament member, Hossein Ali Shahryari, confirmed that 700 people were awaiting execution in Sistan and Baluchistan province, which is only one of Iran’s many provinces. Many of those on death row are Baluch political prisoners. This staggering number of death sentences is evidence of the intense, savage repression that is taking place under the leadership of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

In 2004, in the city of Neka, a 16 year old girl, Atefah Rajabi Sahaaleh, who had been raped and sexually abused by men for many years, was convicted of “crimes against chasity.” She was hanged by slow, painful strangulation from a crane in a public square.

On 5 December 2007, Makvan Mouloodzadeh, a 21-year-old Iranian man, was hanged in Kermanshah Central Prison, after an unfair trial.

A member of Iran’s persecuted Kurdish minority, he was executed on charges of raping other boys when he was 13. In other words, he committed these alleged acts when he was minor. According to Iranian law, a boy under 15 is a minor and cannot be executed.

At Makvan’s mockery of a trial, the alleged rape victims retracted their previous statements, saying they had made their allegations under duress. Makvan pleaded not guilty, telling the court that his confession was made during torture.

He was hanged anyway, without a shred of credible evidence that he had even had sex with the boys, let alone raped them. The lies, defamation and homophobia of the debauched Iranian legal system was exposed when hundreds of villagers attended Makvan’s funeral. People don’t mourn rapists.

This execution was bared-faced homophobic judicial murder, according to Arsham Parsi, Executive Director, of the underground Iranian Queer Railroad, which helps Iranian LGBTs fleeing arrest, torture and execution.