Save Sakineh Ashtiani from Stoning to Death Campaign
The International Campaign to save Sakineh Ashtiani from Stoning in Iran had a huge echo worldwide.
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Who is Sakineh?
She is an Iranian woman convicted of adultery and disturbing the public order, and since 2006 has been under a sentence of death in Iran. An international campaign to overturn her sentence was started by her daughter and son, Farideh and Sajjad Qaderzadeh, and it brought widespread attention to her case in 2010. The international publicity generated by Mrs. Ashtiani’s plight led to numerous diplomatic conflicts between Iran’s government and the heads of certain western governments. Due to the reaction of the international community, the execution had been postponed indefinitely.
Mission Free Iran’s International Committee Against Stoning
Mrs. Ashtiani’s two children began a campaign to overturn their mother’s conviction. In June 2010, they wrote a letter to the world asking for help to save their mother, which was then first published on June 26, 2010, by Mission Free Iran’s International Committee against Stoning. The letter brought widespread attention in 2010 as a result of grassroots campaigning through social networking sites that led to the letter’s being passed along to mainstream mass media. Mission Free Iran’s International Committee against Stoning is a critical step in fighting against stoning and saving its victims. The basis of the committee are preventing the implementation of stoning sentences and fighting to abolish stoning.
During July 2010, protests occurred in Rome, London and Washington, D.C., among other cities. Calls to stop her execution came from leading human rights groups Avaaz,Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch as well as from several high-profile celebrities. A petition was created in support of her release, and has been signed by several additional prominent activists. Brazil and the USA On July 31, 2010, the president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, said he would ask the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to send Mrs. Ashtiani to Brazil, where she would be granted asylum. According to the Brazilian Foreign Ministry, the Brazilian ambassador in Tehran was directly instructed to communicate their asylum proposal to the Iranian government. Iranian officials responded by suggesting that Lula had “not received enough information about the case”.Iran Solidarity U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton mentioned Mrs. Ashtiani in a declaration on August 10, 2010, urging Iran to respect the fundamental freedoms of its citizens.
The European Union’s Reaction
In late August 2010, the Iranian newspaper Kayhan called Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, the First Lady of France, a “prostitute” who “deserved death” after she condemned the stoning sentence against Mrs. Ashtiani. Iranian officials condemned this statement and Ahmadinejad condemned Kayhan’s comments toward Mrs. Bruni-Sarkozy’s as a “crime” and “against Islam.” A resolution by the European Parliament on September 8, 2010, declared that “a sentence of death by stoning can never be justified”.Mission Free IranThe vote passed by a margin of 658–1, the sole vote against having been made in error and later rectified, according to the Associated Press. On September 29, 2010, EveryOne Group, a human rights organisation based in Italy, appealed to the Iranian Authorities for an act of compassion for Mrs. Ashtiani. International Media On August 12, 2010, Mrs. Ashtiani was televised from Tabriz prison on an Iranian state-run television program which showed her confessing in native Azerbaijani language to adultery and involvement murdering her husband once again. Her lawyer claimed she was tortured for two days prior to the interview. On August 28, Mrs. Ashtiani was told that given the 24 hour notice that she was to be hanged at dawn the next day. She wrote her last will and testament just before the call to morning prayer at 5:00 AM local time, when she expected to be led to the gallows at Tabriz Prison. However the sentence was stayed.
Also on August 28, 2010, British newspaper The Times published a photograph of an unveiled woman, identified as Mrs. Ashtiani; the photograph had been provided to the Times by her former lawyer Mohammed Mostafaei. On September 2, 2010, Mrs. Ashtiani’s son and current lawyer reported that she had been additionally convicted of “spreading corruption and indecency” Campaign for Iranian woman facing death by stoning for appearing unveiled and sentenced to 99 lashes. The Times subsequently reported that the photograph was not of Mrs. Ashtiani, but of Susan Hejrat, an Iranian activist living in Sweden. Western newspapers said Ashtiani was then subjected to another round of 99 lashes, predicated on the mistaken photograph. However, Mrs. Ashtiani was again shown on Iranian television on September 15, 2010, where she clarified that she had not been tortured and had not been whipped as a result of The Times photograph.