Human rights activist tries to stop death by stoning for Iranian woman

Discussion in 'West Asia & Africa' started by ajtr, Jul 6, 2010.

  1. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2009
    Messages:
    12,038
    Likes Received:
    715
    Human rights activist tries to stop death by stoning for Iranian woman


    (CNN) -- A veteran Iranian human rights activist has warned that Sakineh Mohammadie Ashtiani, a mother of two, could be stoned to death at any moment under the terms of a death sentence handed down by Iranian authorities.
    Only an international campaign designed to pressure the regime in Tehran can save her life, according to Mina Ahadi, head of the International Committee Against Stoning and the Death Penalty.
    "Legally it's all over," Ahadi said Sunday. "It's a done deal. Sakineh can be stoned at any minute."
    "That is why we have decided to start a very broad, international public movement. Only that can help."Ashtiani, 42, will be buried up to her chest, according to an Amnesty International report citing the Iranian penal code. The stones that will be hurled at her will be large enough to cause pain but not so large as to kill her immediately.
    Ashtiani, who is from the northern city of Tabriz, was convicted of adultery in 2006.
    She was forced to confess after being subjected to 99 lashes, human rights lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei said Thursday in a telephone interview from Tehran.
    She later retracted that confession and has denied wrongdoing. Her conviction was based not on evidence but on the determination of three out of five judges, Mostafaei said. She has asked forgiveness from the court but the judges refused to grant clemency.
    Iran's supreme court upheld the conviction in 2007.Mostafaei believes a language barrier prevented his client from fully comprehending court proceedings. Ashtiani is of Azerbaijani descent and speaks Turkish, not Farsi.
    The circumstances of Ashtiani's case make it not an exception but the rule in Iran, according to Amnesty International, which tracks death penalty cases around the world.
    "The majority of those sentenced to death by stoning are women, who suffer disproportionately from such punishment," the human rights group said in a 2008 report.
    On Wednesday, Amnesty made a new call to the Iranian government to immediately halt all executions and commute all death sentences. The group has recorded 126 executions in Iran from the start of this year to June 6.
    "The organization is also urging the authorities to review and repeal death penalty laws, to disclose full details of all death sentences and executions and to join the growing international trend towards abolition," the statement said.
    Ahadi, who fled Iran in the early 1980s, told CNN that pressure from Amnesty and other organizations and individuals is likely the only way to save Ashtiani.
    "Experience shows (that) ... when the pressure gets very high, the Islamic government starts to say something different," she said.
    In Washington, the State Department has criticized the scheduled stoning, saying it raised serious concerns about human rights violations by the Iranian government.
    "We have grave concerns that the punishment does not fit the alleged crime, " Assistant Secretary of State P.J. Crowley said Thursday. "For a modern society such as Iran, we think this raises significant human rights concerns."
    Calling Iran's judicial system "disproportionate" in its treatment of women, Crowley said, "From the United States' standpoint, we don't think putting women to death for adultery is an appropriate punishment."
    Human rights activists have been pushing the Islamic government to abolish stoning, arguing that women are not treated equally before the law in Iran and are especially vulnerable in the judicial system. A woman's testimony is worth half that of a man, they say.
    Article 74 of the Iranian penal code requires at least four witnesses -- four men or three men and two women -- for an adulterer to receive a stoning sentence, said Ahadi, of the International Committee Against Stoning. But there were no witnesses in Ashtiani's case. Often, said Ahadi, husbands turn wives in to get out of a marriage.
    Mostafaei said he could not understand how such a savage method of death could exist in the year 2010 or how an innocent woman could be taken from her son and daughter, who have written to the court pleading for their mother's life.
    The public won't be allowed to witness the stoning, Mostafaei said, for fear of condemnation of such a brutal method. He is hoping there won't be an execution.
    Mostafaei, who himself did jail time in the aftermath of the disputed presidential elections in June 2009, said he realizes the risk of speaking out for Ashtiani, for fighting for human rights. But he doesn't let that deter him.
    He last saw Ashtiani five months ago behind bars in Tabriz. Since then, he said, he has been searching for a way to save her from the stones.
     
  2.  
  3. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2009
    Messages:
    12,038
    Likes Received:
    715
    Iran says it will not stone woman to death after outcry

    [​IMG]
    This undated image made available by Amnesty International in London, shows Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a mother of two who is facing the punishment of stoning to death in Iran, on charges of adultery. – Photo by AP

    LONDON: Iran has announced that a woman will not be stoned to death after being convicted of adultery following an international outcry, a paper reported Friday.

    The Islamic republic’s London embassy issued a statement, saying “according to information from the relevant judicial authorities in Iran, Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani will not be executed by stoning,” according to Britain's Times daily.

    But the statement did not say whether the 43-year-old would be spared or executed by hanging instead, added the paper.

    Human rights group Amnesty International has said she was convicted in 2006 or 2007 and has previously received a flogging of 99 lashes.

    The United States and Britain have led global condemnation of the planned stoning execution. – AFP
     
  4. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2009
    Messages:
    12,038
    Likes Received:
    715
    Who will cast the first stone?


    First, the good news: the Bangladesh High Court has abolished all physical punishments based on the scriptures. Thus, people will no longer be sentenced to lashing, chopping off their hands, or stoning to death.
    Unfortunately, Mrs Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani is an Iranian widow, and was sentenced to be stoned to death in her country for alleged adultery before her husband was murdered. She has already been lashed 99 times in 2006 for “illicit sex”. The Iranian penal code is very explicit about how the sentence is to be carried out: the stones should not be so large as to kill the victim immediately, and yet large enough to fit the definition of a stone.

    While an international outcry has prevented this barbaric punishment from being carried out, Mrs Ashtiani might yet be hanged for the alleged offence. Although Islamic law requires four witnesses to establish that adultery has taken place, in this case the judge has based his sentence on ‘personal knowledge’. Currently, 15 more suspects are under the same sentence in East Azerbaijan alone. It seems these punishments have been revived under Ahmednijad’s presidency after lying dormant during his predecessor’s less benighted term.

    From Pakistan, a human rights activist has sent me a sickening account of a Christian whose wife and four children were killed last month in Jhelum. Apparently, Jamshed Masih, a Christian policeman, was told to move from the predominantly Muslim colony where he and his family lived.

    Before the attack, Masih’s 11-year old son went to a local shop, and was refused service on the grounds that he was a non-Muslim. On his return, locals led by Maulana Mahfooz Khan entered the house, asserting that the boy had committed blasphemy and must be punished. Mrs Masih pleaded with the mob, and asked them to wait until her husband returned, but somebody threw an object at her head. Her daughter managed to call her father, but by the time he returned, his family had all been massacred.

    The head of the local police station has refused to register a case against the killers, saying: “Khan is an influential man, and he said your son has committed blasphemy – we cannot do anything against him.” The police officer added: “I am a poor man, I have a family, and I was pressured by higher authorities not to register the FIR [First Information Report].

    From Egypt comes this bizarre story reported by the Los Angeles Times: a group calling itself Lawyers Without Shackles went to court to demand that the magical collection of tales contained in the Arabian Nights (or One Thousand and One Nights, as it is also called) be purified of its somewhat racy elements. A member of the lawyers’ group, Ayman Abdel-Hakim declared:

    “The book contains profanities that cannot be acceptable in Egyptian society… We understand that this kind of literature is acceptable in the West, but here we have a different culture and different religion.”

    Considering that this wonderful work has been entertaining (and titillating) Arab and non-Arab readers for centuries, it is hard to understand why Mr Abdel-Hakim and his colleagues have suddenly woken up to its stories which include Sinbad the Sailor, Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves and Aladdin’s Wonderful Lamp. Fortunately, the case was thrown out by the court, perhaps because the publishing house against whom the case was filed falls under the umbrella of the government. Here, the Egyptian judge applied standards different from the ones used by the Lahore High Court when it shut down the social networking website Facebook, together with a number of other popular Internet sites. However, Egyptian Lawyers without Shackles appear to have a lot in common with Pakistan’s legal fraternity.

    I could go on in this depressing vein, quoting from stories that have been sent to me by readers, but the ones I have cited here should suffice to make the point. For some reason, Muslims seem determined to prove to the world that they live in another century, on another planet. Pakistanis, in particular, appear to think they have a monopoly on religious zeal. Here, they demonstrate the fervour of converts who have a pressing need to show the world that they are better Muslims than anybody else.

    The unfortunate citizens to bear the brunt of this religiosity are the minorities: it’s easy to prove your faith against the most vulnerable section of society. Ahmadis, Hindus and Christians are victimised with terrifying frequency, and as the state does nothing to halt this persecution, zealots like Maulana Mahfooz Khan are encouraged. He is no doubt boasting to his acolytes about how he upheld his faith against an 11-year old Christian boy.

    Mercifully, Bangladesh is trying to reverse the tide of extremism that was unleashed by the previous government. But in most Muslim countries, intolerance is growing by the day. Yet Muslims living in the West demand ever-greater freedom to practise and spread their faith. Imagine the furore if a Muslim boy had been refused service in a shop in say, Birmingham, because of his religion. There would have been riots across the Islamic world had a Muslim family been slaughtered by a mob in a Western city. And yet when such atrocities happen (as they do, all too often) in our part of the world, they are met with official indifference and public silence.

    I have often wondered about the people who carry out the sentence of stoning to death. What kind of person would willingly pick up a fist-sized stone from a pile in a public place and throw it at the head of the victim who has been buried neck-deep? What does it take to look at a helpless person before releasing the missile and seeing it crunch against a human skull? Can anybody undertake this cold-blooded act voluntarily and still claim to be a civilised human being?

    The punishments mentioned in the Muslim scriptures also figure in the Old Testament, and ancient Jews no doubt applied them. But they fell into disuse centuries ago. It’s high time we put them to rest as well.

    When a woman accused of adultery was brought before Jesus with the demand that he condemn her to death by stoning, he gently said to them: “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her.”
     

Share This Page