The mother of an executed Iranian woman sent an open letter to the Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, urging him to take a stand against capital punishment.
Shole Pakravan's daughter Reyhaneh Jabbari was arrested, aged 19, for the murder of a man she claims she killed in self-defence after he tried to rape her. After seven years in prison, the victim was executed on 25 October 2014 , in a decision which provoked outcry from followers of the international campaign that tried to get Iran to spare her life.
In an emotional letter to Renzi, Pakravan questions why he is visiting Iran and asks whether he would raise the issue of capital punishment, by limb amputation and execution, with his counterparts.
Pakravan wrote: "He might aim to convey the messages of those who are shocked and disappointed about Iran's executions. He might intend to communicate the Pope's message – which addresses the global abolition of the death penalty – or to say: 'Stop public executions'. He might request a halt to the execution of juvenile offenders.
"Or perhaps he might not say much about executions, but surely he would mention the brutal sentences of amputation of limbs. No? They might not even discuss such issues because their meeting would then be afflicted by such bitter and creepy facts. But I am quite sure that he would mention the expulsion of religious and ethnic minorities from universities or administrations.
"Then again, he might not talk about these things at all. Well then, what is his aim of coming to Iran...? He might cruise through Tehran's streets and witness the young and homeless children who beg for money with bare feet. No, then again his car's windshield has tinted glass and he cannot witness such scenes or he talk about them in his meetings.
"Honestly I have no idea why he is traveling to Iran. He might be seeking money, trade, oil, sanctions and things like that.
"In other words, can anything else be important to him except the mentioned cases? I have no clue. Maybe this prime minister is a good person and might address all of the above issues. In this case, what he will be remembered for in the future is his well-earned reputation and his good deeds. But if he only pursues his own commercial interests in Iran, then he must note that, in Iran, there are still a high number of executions per capita and it is still common for people to be tortured to extract 'confessions,' let alone all the other issues.
She added: "Perhaps the prime minister accepts our invitation and stands by our side in the petition for abolition of the death penalty. Perhaps he also wishes for an Iran without any execution. Maybe in his meetings, he would say: 'No to Execution, No to Torture!'"
Renzi visited the Islamic Republic to re-establish trade ties between Italy and Iran. During the period of his visit, 14 people have been executed, eight of them in one day. The executions come just weeks after the release of a report by Amnesty International highlighting the rise in capital punishment in Iran last year.