A Story of a Last-Minute Act of Forgiveness

Photographerarash khamooshi
PrizeHonorable Mention
Entry Description

While recovering from a surgery at my house, I was asked by my friends to participate in a campaign aimed at saving Balal, a death row inmate's life. Balal was sentenced to death on the count of involuntary murder. We had to provide a court-ordered 115000$ settlement to the victim's family. I was contacted again two days before the execution date to go to Nour city and spend the remaining hours trying out best to save Balal’s life. We arrived there among the pre-execution hubbub. The following photos were taken on the execution day (from 4 to 6 a.m.), and they narrate the story of his forgiveness.


On the 21st day of December 2007, street vendors of the local Wednesday market at Nour (located in the province of Mazandaran, 230 km from Tehran) witnessed a street brawl which led to the murder of “Abdollah Hosein Zadeh”, a 17 year old teenager. Balal, a boy about the same age as the victim, was charged with murder. Abdollah’s parents, who had lost their younger son in a motorcycle accident in 2003, were grief-stricken after losing their other son as well. The retaliation law in Iran (an eye for eye…) allows the murder victim’s family to either seek revenge from the murderer or spare their life. Now seven years after the murder, the victim’s family has spared the life of the murderer at the gallows and currently lives with their daughter, their now only child. Abdolqani Hosein Zadeh, Abdollah’s father, is a former soccer player of local teams, currently active as the principal of the Nour City Soccer Academy. He has decided to use the blood money he is entitled to, to found a soccer academy in the name of his son. The money was provided in a few months’ time before the execution date, through the efforts of several artists (in different fields of art, such as Cinema) and some other humanitarian individuals. One day before the supposed execution date, an announcement of this event by ISNA(Iranian Students News Agency) convinced the host of a popular live show called 90 to ask the family of the victim to spare the convict’s life (90 is a show about soccer, with an impressive viewer rate of approximately 30 million). All these efforts eventually led to the young convict’s life being spared, and gave him a fresh start.

About Photographer

Arash Khamooshi August 5, 1983, Kermanshah. B.A. in Photography from Azad University (Faculty of Art and Architecture) - 2007 Staff photographer at ISNA news agency (2005-present) Winner of multiple photography awards, including: • 1st place, Urban Press Competition – 2006 • 2nd place, Photography competition on the occasion of Iranian President’s provincial tour – 2007 • 3rd place, Iran-e-Ma (Our Iran) Competition – 2007 • 1st Place, Fars Competition – 2008 • 3rd Place, For a Better Life _ 2008 • 1st Place, Press Award (news report category), 2013 Multiple national and international group exhibitions