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Friday, July 23, 2010
It's a Crime to Be a Woman in Iran: Stoning and Executions Updated
Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the Iranian mother who was convicted of adultery and sentenced to death by stoning, is still alive, for now – saved by an international outcry of revulsion against state barbarism. But the story isn’t over. She’s still on death row. Once the heat dies down, the regime may simply choose to hang her, instead.
“This regime has taken so many lives,” says Maryam Namazie, an Iranian human-rights campaigner who now lives in London. “There’s got to be a time when it stops.”
The Tabriz prison where Sakineh is locked up contains 200 other death-row cases, according to Ms. Namazie. Thirty-five are women who face death by stoning. One is Maryam Baagherzaade, 25, who has been in jail for the past four years. Her execution has been postponed because she got pregnant while on a short leave from prison. The regime usually waits to kill pregnant women until after they’ve had their babies.
Then there’s Azar Bagheri, 19. She was 14 when she was forced into an unwanted marriage. Her husband later pressed charges against her, claiming that she didn’t love him and that she had had a relationship with another man. She was arrested, convicted of having sex out of wedlock, and sentenced to death by stoning when she was only 15. She has been subjected to mock stoning on two occasions – buried up to her chest and threatened with death unless she co-operated. The death-row inmates include children, adolescents and 18 people who’ve been sentenced to hang for homosexuality. Last week, a 16-year-old girl killed herself in her cell to escape hanging.
Even a suntan constitutes a crime against Islam. “The public expects us to act firmly and swiftly if we see any social misbehaviour by women, and men, who defy our Islamic values,” Tehran’s police chief, Hossein Sajedinia, announced in April. “In some areas of north Tehran, we can see many suntanned women and young girls who look like walking mannequins. We are not going to tolerate this situation and will first warn those found in this manner and then arrest and imprison them.”
As Ms. Namazie puts it: “It’s a crime to be a woman in Iran.”
Iran stoning woman 'tortured' before TV 'confession' Aug 12 08:42 AM US/Eastern
A photo of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani provided by Amnesty International. A ...
A lawyer for an Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning has told a British newspaper she was tortured for two days before confessing on state TV to being an accomplice to her husband's death.
Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani's lawyer told the Guardian on Thursday that his client, a 43-year-old mother of two, was forced to give the interview, which was recorded in Tabriz prison where she has been held for the past four years.
"She was severely beaten up and tortured until she accepted to appear in front of camera. Her 22-year-old son Sajad and her 17-year-old daughter Saeedeh are completely traumatised by watching this programme," lawyer Houtan Kian said on the newspaper's website.
The lawyer said he feared the Iranian authorities would act quickly to carry out the death sentence, which was reportedly commuted to hanging after an international outcry against her sentence last month.
Another of her lawyers, Mohammad Mostafaie, fled Iran this month and is now in Norway after Iranian officials issued an arrest warrant for him and detained his wife.
The sentence against Mohammadi-Ashtiani was initially for "having an illicit relationship outside marriage", which drew condemnation from many countries.
In a separate interview with the Guardian last week, she claimed she had been acquitted of murder, "but the man who actually killed my husband was identified and imprisoned but he is not sentenced to death."
In the earlier Guardian interview, she attributed her treatment by the Iranian authorities to her gender. "It's because I'm a woman, it's because they think they can do anything to women in this country," she said. " AFP Story 2008