My dear friend Jules Odendahl-James–an excellent dramaturg and scholar who shares my interest in prison theatre work–forwarded me a link to this article about an interview-based play in Tehran about juveniles on death row in Iran. Another really interesting and beautiful play on a similar topic was written by my good friend and former colleague Mark Perry. A New Dress for Mona describes the life and death of Mona Mahmudnizhad, who is considered a martyr of the Baha’i faith because the Iranian government executed her for her beliefs in 1983. Mona was seventeen at the time of her death. Amnesty International and many other human rights groups have taken stands against the execution of juveniles, but the practice continues in Iran. The United States outlawed the execution of juveniles in 2005 (not very long ago by international human rights standards), but we still sentence juveniles to life without parole. Amnesty International reports:
There are at least 2,500 people in the US serving life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for crimes committed when they were under 18 years old. The United States is believed to stand alone in sentencing children to life without parole. Although several countries technically permit the practice, Amnesty International knows of no cases outside the US where such a sentence has been imposed in recent years.
We need far more theatre and other types of art to draw attention to what happens to young people all over the world. Congratulations and many thanks to the Iranian theatre practitioners do this work and to Mark Perry who writes from the United States about Iran and the Baha’i faith. May your work have many audiences, and may our governments evolve to end juvenile executions and life without parole.