Human Rights Groups and State Department Speak Out Against Stoning

Photo found on Amnesty International website

Human rights groups and concerned supporters have launched a campaign against the execution of Sakineh Mohammadie Ashtiani, asking the Iranian government to revisit her case and revise their execution practices.

According to a recent Amnesty International report, the human rights organization made a new call last Wednesday to the Iranian government to immediately halt all executions and desist all death sentences. The group has recorded 126 executions in Iran from the start of this year to June 6.

Ashtiani, a 43 year-old Iranian mother of two, faces “imminent” execution by stoning for confessing to adultery in 2006. According to a CNN report, Ashtiani was forced to confess after receiving 99 lashes after her arrest, but she later retracted her statements and denied any wrongdoing.

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran also issued appeals to the Iranian Judiciary to halt her execution and to the Iranian parliament to abolish stoning as a form of execution.

When a woman is executed by stoning in accordance with Sharia law, she is typically buried at her breasts while men are buried to their waists, and bystanders are invited to throw stones until she dies. An April, 2010 Amnesty International report said that according to Article 104 in Sharia law, with reference to adultery, the stones used should “not be large enough to kill the person by one or two strikes, nor should they be so small that they could not be defined as stones.” Ashtiani was sentenced to be stoned with medium-sized stones so she would die at a slower rate.

The CNN report also indicated that Ashtiani could be stoned “at any time,” and often times, prisoners are not informed of their execution until the last minute.

The Campaign also reported that Ashtiani was in an abusive marriage that led to the murder of her husband by another man she became involved with. She and the man were sentenced to ten years in prison, but the judges decided to also punish her, without any evidence, for having an extramarital relationship with a man.

The International Committee Against Stoning has also launched an international campaign in support of Ashtiani and other Iranian women who could face death by stoning. The group, led by Mina Ahadi, is organizing worldwide protests, inviting people to write letters and providing lists of executions by stoning committed by the Iranian government.

Philip Crowley, Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, said in a State Department press conference that the U.S. does not support the disproportional laws that punish women by death for committing adultery.

“We have grave concerns that the punishment does not fit the alleged crime,” he said. “And for a modern society such as Iran, we think this raises significant human rights concerns, and disproportionate treatment of women in terms of how society metes out justice.”

Below, listen to Mina Ahadi’s interview with CNN.

Last year, the film The Stoning of Soraya M. was released about a woman who was stoned for allegedly committing adultery in an Iranian village. It is now banned in Iran for its criticism of the Iranian legal system.

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4 thoughts on “Human Rights Groups and State Department Speak Out Against Stoning

  1. This woman has obviously been targeted for being an activist and beautiful. It would seem that 99 lashings would be enough punishment, and that a slow, painful death is a bit overkill! As long as women are not allowed to have a strong voice, iran does not deserve to be recognized as a civilized nation.

  2. Pingback: Today: D.C. and Other Major Cities Hold Protest Against Execution of Iranian Woman « D.C. Foreign Policy Beat

  3. Pingback: Today: D.C. and Other Major Cities Hold Protest Against Execution of Iranian Woman | D.C. Foreign Policy Beat

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