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International Committee Against Stoning

Enough! On the ‘storm’ around Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani’s case

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By Maryam Namazie 

The Islamic Republic of Iran and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have raised the issue of 41 year old Teresa Lewis’ impending execution in the US to challenge the “storm” surrounding 43 year old Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani who has been sentenced to death by stoning in Iran. 

Clearly both women must not be executed. Executions – for whatever reason – are the most deplorable form of intentional murder

Having said that, however, there are a number of reasons why Sakineh’s impending stoning has caused such a huge public outcry. 

Firstly, we have a photo of Sakineh; we know her full name, that she has had a fifth grade education, and that she ‘wants to live,’ making it extremely personal. 

Her children have pleaded for help. The international campaign took off in an unprecedented manner after an open letter from Sakineh’s two children calling on people to intervene. 

Who can ever forget that letter? 

It said: ‘Today we stretch out our hands to the people of the whole world… Is the world so cruel that it can watch this catastrophe and do nothing about it?’ 

Also we – and particularly Mina Ahadi – have been campaigning against stoning for years. Mina first started working on Sakineh’s case three years ago. 

Finally, stoning is the most egregious and barbaric form of execution. The law even specifies the size of stone to be used. Prior to the stoning, the bodies of the victims are washed in the same way the dead are (whilst they are alive), wrapped in a shroud, and then buried in a ditch – up to the waist for men and chest for women. They are then pelted with stones – on prison grounds or in their already dug out graves – until they are dead. 

Sakineh has become the cry of 21st century humanity vis-à-vis this era’s barbarism. 

Today, stoning has become the racial apartheid of this century – intolerable and unacceptable. The public are just not going to stand for stoning anymore. And as a result governments have taken heed. We know that many governments supported racial apartheid in South Africa for a very long time and only as a result of public pressure did they eventually deem racial apartheid a crime against humanity. We also know that many of the very governments criticising Iran on Sakineh’s case have had and continue to have wonderfully cosy relations with that regime despite its slaughter of an entire generation. 

But that is the nature of public outcries – they change laws, they ban the intolerable, they challenge the powers that be and even bring down governments and regimes. 

Sakineh’s case has caused such a storm because we want her to live. 

We want to save her.

We won’t let her die. 

Not because she is the only one in this situation but because she symbolises that which we will no longer tolerate. 

There are many others like her – in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, China and yes the US waiting to be killed one way or the other by the state as a tool to repress and intimidate society at large. 

But there are also many others like Baby P or Dua Khalil, yet it is their faces and names and stories that force us to scream enough. 


3 Comments for “Enough! On the ‘storm’ around Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani’s case”

  1. Colette Hargreaves

    He who is without sin cast the first stone.

  2. brian

    well not quite:

    ‘French essayist Bernard-Henry Levy and President Nicolas Sarkozy have mobilized French public opinion to save an Iranian woman, accused of adultery, from being stoned to death. Overcome with emotion, the French did not take the time to verify the allegations, until actor Dieudonné M’bala M’bala traveled to Teheran. Once in the Iranian capital, everything turned out to be false. Thierry Meyssan addresses the spectacular and reckless manipulation that took place.’

    1. This lady has not been tried for adultery but for murder. As it happens, there is no conviction for adultery in Iran. Instead of revoking this type of incrimination, the law has subordinated the establishment of the facts to a series of conditions which are impossible to satisfy. “Four people have to witness the adultery at the same time” [4].

    - 2. The Republic of Islam does not recognize the Sharia, but – only and exclusively- the law passed by the representatives of the people sitting in Parliament.

    - 3. Ms. Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani administered a drug to her husband and got her lover, Issa Tahen, to kill him while he was asleep. The “diabolical lovers” have already been tried in the first and secondary instances and were sentenced to death in both. The Court did not establish any discrimination between the two genders. It is important to note that the indictment does not even mention the intimate relations between the accused, precisely because it is impossible to prove they actually existed according to the Iranian law, even when the family members attest to such a relationship.

    - 4. The death penalty is likely to be executed by hanging. Stoning – which still prevailed under the Shah’s rule and was maintained for a number of years after his overthrow – has been abolished by the Islamic Revolution. Irritated by the statements of Bernard-Henry Levy and Nicolas Sarkozy, the vice-president of the Iranian Judicial Council told Dieudonné M’bala M’bala that he defies these Zionist figures to find one single text of contemporary Iranian law that contemplates stoning.

    - 5. The sentence is currently being examined by the Court of Appeals, which has to scrutinize the legality of each and every detail of the procedure. If any irregularity is found, the trial will be declared null and void. This examination procedure triggers the provisional suspension of the sentence. Since the final judgment has not yet been pronounced, the defendant still enjoys the presumption of innocence, and furthermore, there was never any question of executing her at the end of Ramadan.

    - 6. Ms. Mohammadi-Ashtiani’s defense attorney, Mr. Javid Hustan Kian, is an impostor. He is linked with the son of the accused, but has never been appointed by Ms. Mohammadi-Astiani and has never been in touch with her. Javid Hustan Kian is member of the People’s Mujahidin, a terrorist organization that enjoys the protection of Israel and of the neo-conservatives [5].

    - 7. The son of the accused lives generally in Tabriz. He is free to have as many telephone conversations with Mr. Levy as he likes in order to denigrate his own country, which denotes the free and democratic nature of his government.

    In sum, nothing, absolutely nothing, of what Levy and Sarkozy have said about Ms. Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani’s story is true. Bernard-Henry Levy might have repeated, in good faith, false accusations to buttress his crusade against Iran. However, President Sarkozy can hardly resort to the same alibi. Officials of the French Foreign Service, the most prestigious in the world, must surely have provided him with all the relevant reports on the case. Therefore, Sarkozy deliberately lied to French public opinion, probably to be able to justify post facto the harsh sanctions adopted against Iran to the detriment of the French economy itself, already seriously affected by his policies.

  3. farokh

    Stop stoning!! becaus it is shaim of History

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