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Thursday, September 30, 2010

‘Sanitised’ or not it must be stopped

In defence of Teresa Lewis and Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani
By Maryam Namazie

41 year old Teresa Lewis was executed on Thursday 23 September in the US state of Virginia despite having learning difficulties. Her case made headlines because she was the first woman to be put to death in the US for five years and in Virginia for nearly a hundred years.

The case of Teresa Lewis and Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani may seem different at face value - most obviously in the method of execution. Teresa was executed by lethal injection. Sakineh on the other hand has been sentenced to death by stoning (a sentence which has still not been revoked but merely put on hold due to the public outcry). Teresa was executed for conspiring to murder her husband and stepson whilst Sakineh has been sentenced to death for adultery.

But there are far more similarities than differences here.

Teresa was executed whilst the hitmen who actually killed her husband and stepson were given life in prison. Sakineh too has been sentenced to death by stoning whilst her alleged lover has not. Moreover, after the international campaign in her defence, the Islamic regime in Iran has tried to stitch Sakineh up with trumped up murder charges in order to facilitate her execution whilst the man who has been convicted of murdering her husband is not on death row.

There are more but the starkest similarity is fundamentally in the barbarism of execution whatever form it may take. Whilst stoning is obviously the most brutal form, Teresa’s last moments will enrage any decent human being - even with the ‘sanitisation’ of capital punishment in the US and ‘niceties’ such as a legal minimum IQ (Teresa’s was two points above it), a last meal of choice (Teresa had chicken and chocolate cake) and evening executions so that death row inmates can spend all day with their loved ones before they are killed… The term ‘capital punishment’ is itself a sanitised name for what is in effect premeditated state murder.

Read the below account of a media witness to see what I mean:

“Teresa Lewis, wearing a light blue shirt, dark blue pants and flip flops, came through the door at 8:55, ushered by guards in blue uniforms who held her elbows. She looked toward us with a gaze that seemed dazed and anxious.

‘Within moments she was flat on the gurney. Several guards strapped her down. I never saw her face again.

‘At 8:58, officials drew a dark blue curtain across the window. Behind it, they attached the intravenous lines. We could not see or hear anything. Perry wept.

‘At 9:09 the curtain opened. Teresa's arms were now extended from her body with strips of white tape holding the tubes in. The warden asked Teresa if she had any final words. Her speech sounded garbled at first, but officials later told us she asked if Kathy Clifton was there.

‘Then she said clearly: "I just want Kathy to know that I love you and I'm very sorry."

‘The chemicals began flowing. In Virginia, the first is Thiopental Sodium, which renders the person unconscious. The second, Pancuronium Bromide stops breathing. The final chemical, Potassium Chloride, stops the heart.

‘Teresa Lewis's feet and toes twitched, then they stopped.’

Undoubtedly, the state of Virginia’s murder of Teresa Lewis is far worse that anything she had or could have done, however heart wrenching the loss of her victims. She had a learning disability; the state of Virginia has no such excuse.

More importantly, unlike Teresa, it ‘publicly, with prior notice, on behalf of society, with the utmost legitimacy and ruthlessness, decide[d] to murder [her], and announce[d] the date and time of the event.’

Of course some will say Teresa got what she deserved. But justice has (or at least should have) nothing to do with retribution. We don’t allow the rape of rapists, or the burning down of the houses of arsonists, do we? Also the ‘eye for an eye’ argument ignores the reality that capital punishment is meted out for many different offences depending on time and place. In today’s Iran, for example, there are 130 offences punishable by death under Sharia law including apostasy, heresy, blasphemy, homosexuality...

What is painstakingly clear about Teresa’s execution or the stoning sentence of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani is that execution by a state is never about justice – whatever its justifications. And it is always about putting people in their places and creating a climate of intimidation and fear, albeit in different forms depending on whether it takes place in the US, China or Iran.

In the end, the ‘machinery of death’ as Teresa’s lawyer has called it took yet another life. And by doing so further diminished rather than elevated the value of human life.

And ‘sanitised’ or not - it has to be stopped. Full stop.

Sajjad Asks Municipalities around the World to Help Free His Mother

PR 76
September 29, 2010

In a letter that Sajjad Ghaderzadeh has written on September 26, he has sought support from municipalities worldwide in demanding his mother's release.

In this letter, Sajjad thanks individuals and organizations who have worked to save his mother. He has also written, "I thank the municipalities of Rome and Florence in Italy, for they endeavored to save my innocent mother. I ask all municipalities in the different capitals of the world, in a unified effort, to protest against the Islamic Republic's sentence against my innocent mother, and to demand a commutation of the execution and stoning sentence against my mother."

We hope that municipalities respond to Sajjad's request, and that we witness a broad movement by municipalities throughout the world.

Sakineh is still under threat of execution, and judiciary officials have said that they will make a final decision in Sakineh's case in 2 weeks.

The International Campaign to Save Sakineh must continue with full force: the Islamic Republic should be pressured more intensively until it is forced to free Sakineh.

International Committee against Stoning
International Committee against Execution

In support of Behnam Ebrahimzadeh

To Labor Organizations Worldwide:

On June 12, Behnam Ebrahimzadeh, a labor- and children's rights activist, was arrested. His ribcage and his leg were injured during a brutal beating administered upon his arrest, and he continues to suffer from intense pain in his leg. He has been held in solitary confinement in Ward 209 of Evin Prison for 4 months. His family was informed that bail had been set at US$100,000 dollars. A month has passed since Behnam's family informed the prison authorities that they had raised the money to post bail, but they have received no further response and Behnam remains imprisoned.

In protest against his solitary confinement, against the constant pressure and torture, and against the uncertainty related to whether he will be released on bail or not, Behnam has gone on hunger strike.

In a letter dated September 30, 2010, Behnam's brother, Moussa Ebrahimzadeh, declared on behalf of himself and his family an international campaign to release Behnam from prison, calling on all freedom-loving people of the world to support them and to put pressure on the Islamic Republic to free Behnam as soon as possible.

We ask for the broadest international support for this call, and for efforts to free all imprisoned workers.

The letter from the brother of Behnam Ebrahimzadeh is attached.

Campaign to free JAILED WORKERS in IRAN
Shahla Daneshfar ,0044-77798 98968
Bahram Soroush, 0044-7852 338334
30 September, 2010

From brother of jailed Iranian trade unionist to people of the world:

Behnam Ebrahimzadeh has gone on hunger strike. Help us save him!

Behnam (Asad) Ebrahimzadeh is an Iranian worker. He is a workers’ rights, children’s rights and human rights activist. It is almost 4 months now that he has been languishing in solitary confinement in the notorious Ward 209 of Evin Prison in Tehran for those same ‘crimes’. Although a $100,000 bail has been set for his release, the authorities refuse to release him and keep giving us the runaround.

Behnam was arrested on June 12, 2010. He was so badly beaten at the time of the arrest that his rib cage and leg were injured, and he is still suffering from a severely sore leg.

Behnam’s family visited him today, Sept. 30, and learned that he had started a hunger strike since yesterday, protesting the solitary confinement and the prison officials’ refusal to provide medical care for his leg. This is worrisome news and we are deeply concerned. His life is in danger and we must do something.

Behnam objects to the bail, saying he has not done anything to deserve imprisonment and to have to pay bail to be released. We, on the other hand, have repeatedly contacted the prison officials to let them know that we have the bail money ready in order to get Behnam released. But the officials refuse to give us a straight answer. All they say is, ‘we will contact you’, i.e. evading and dragging. Meanwhile Behnam continues to languish in solitary confinement. Some weeks they cancel even his family visitation. That, in turn, adds to his wife’s and children’s worries and the pressures they live under. The authorities are just wasting time while my brother’s life is in danger. We need the help of all the workers, of all the people, across the world to rescue Behnam.

I, Moosa Ebrahimzadeh, Behnam’s brother, write this letter on behalf of our family and Behnam’s family. We are concerned. We have no alternative but to fight for the freedom of Behnam, as well as of all other jailed activists, with everything in our power. We, therefore, expect you, the workers and all concerned people of the world, to help us. All Behnam did was struggle for a dignified life for all. Let us save him. Behnam and all other jailed workers, as well as others who are in jail for their justified, humanitarian demands, must be freed immediately.

I, for my part, thank all those who have so far carried out protests to free Behnam and other jailed workers. I also hereby announce my own campaign for Behnam’s freedom. Please support me in promoting this campaign.

Moosa Ebrahimzadeh
Sept. 30, 2010

Translation: Jamshid Haadiaan, Free Them Now! Campaign

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sharia law is important but not for the reasons given by Abu Dhabi’s king

During a tour of Birmingham, the Abu Dhabi King’s special adviser Ali Al Hashmi declared that that the King has “great faith” in Nuneaton’s Sharia court, which according to the Coventry Telegraph hears cases on family law, forced marriages, charity law, and inheritance disputes. He went on to highlight the importance of Sharia law in Britain.

As One Law for All has revealed in its recent report; Sharia Law in Britain; A Threat to One Law for All and Equal Rights, Sharia courts like the one in Nuneaton are important for very different reasons than the ones stated by the King’s advisor. Far from being the first, the Nuneaton court is one of many legislating mysogyny and discrimination and violating fundamental human rights. Under Sharia law, custody of children is automatically granted to the father at a preset age, regardless of the welfare of the child. In inheritance disputes, females inherit only half of the male members of their family. Also a woman’s testimony is only considered half of a man’s.

One Law for All will continue to challenge the existence of these courts until they are disbanded.

All citizens must have equality before the law and not be relegated to parallel religious legal systems that deny fundamental rights and freedoms available to 21st century citizens.

For more information contact:
Anne Marie Waters
Maryam Namazie
One Law for All

The Danger of Execution Is Still Hanging Over Sakineh's Head

PR 75
September 27, 2010

Mohsen Ejaei, spokesperson of the Judiciary power of the Islamic Republic of Iran, announced today, September 27, 2010, that Sakineh was sentenced to stoning as well as execution [for the fabricated murder charge invented by the regime], and that the punishment for murder [execution, most likely by hanging] takes priority over the punishment for adultery [stoning].

It is necessary to recall that on their recent trip to New York, Ahmadinejad and Mashaai, his Vice-President, had announced that a stoning sentence has never been handed down in Sakineh's case.

We have previously published documents regarding Sakineh's case in Tabriz court that clearly show there was never a trial in which Sakineh was accused of murder. After the pressure created by the international campaign against Sakineh's stoning, the Islamic Republic's judiciary officials stole all relevant documents and case files [regarding the murder of Sakineh's husband] in order to be able to announce that Sakineh has been sentenced to execution [on the fabricated murder charge].

Every time they reiterate Sakineh's punishment, it puts a devastating psychological pressure on Sakineh's children, and consumes them with worry. Sajjad, in a new call to the whole world, has asked for his mother to be saved. We once again emphasize the necessity of a powerful continuation of the international effort to save Sakineh.

The International Committee against Stoning
The International Committee against Stoning

September 27, 2010

From Sajjad Ghaderzadeh, son of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani
To 27 European Countries:

Greetings to all officials in European countries,

Perhaps I am not in a position to write a letter to 27 European and Western countries, but what can I do? I have no other hope but you, dear ones. I have no more tears to shed. The only thing I have left is a lump in my throat. I only hope that God helps me in writing this letter. I have lost my father, and now this government wants to take our mother from me and my sister for a crime that she has not committed.

You all know that my mother is innocent and has spent five years languishing in a cold black pit. For a moment, I put myself in my mother's place and I imagine myself behind those prison bars, living the nightmare of waiting for death by stones. Imagine it for yourself. Wouldn't life be a horror if, each time you shut your eyes to sleep, you were jolted awake with the slightest sound, fearful of hearing the words: "It is time to dig the hole for Sakineh to be stoned"? Isn't it horrendous that for five years, my sister and I haven't had a peaceful night's rest? The Islamic Republic has taken our breath, and before I lose it, I wanted to write this letter to you, to ask for your help.

I don't care about myself, but I do care for my sister and my mother. I want them to live and be happy. And I sincerely tell the Islamic Republic: if you have some need for retribution, bring it down on me! Arrest me, and free my mother so that she can hold my sister to her bosom. The truth is that I have not lost all my hope yet, as long as you politicians, you the mass media, you the humanitarians, you all the people of the world, and our lawyer, Mr. Houtan Kian, are still behind us. Yet I fear the day when the telephone rings only to hear a voice telling us, "Your mother has been executed." From that moment, the lives of my sister and I would never be the same.

At that moment, I will again put on the same black shirt that I wore when my father died, this time for my mother. I tell you these words from the bottom of our hearts: I want the whole world to rush to our help. I want the 27 European countries to respond to this letter before the Islamic Republic has executed the sentence against our mother. I humbly thank you all.

Sajjad Ghaderzadeh,
Son of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani

Monday, September 27, 2010

Complaint to OFCOM for BBC Sunday Morning Live's bias against Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani


I am writing to complain about BBC Sunday Morning Live’s factually incorrect statements on a 5th September programme entitled “Is it Right to Condemn Iran for Stoning?”

The principal reason for my complaint is statements made by Susanna Reid which were factually false and which gave the impression that Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani is not to be stoned and that stoning does not take place in Iran (or is rare). She said that no stonings have taken place since the 2002 moratorium; in fact, 17 stonings have occurred since this time. Indeed, Amnesty International stated very recently that eight men and three women are awaiting stoning at present and that since 2006 at least six people have been put to death in this way.

Ms Reid also said that Sakineh Ashtiani is facing execution for murder rather than adultery despite court documents proving that Sakineh was sentenced to death for adultery and was acquitted of murder.

All of this is clearly contrary to the BBC Charter, which states (6.1): “The BBC shall be independent in all matters concerning the content of its output, the times and manner in which this is supplied, and in the management of its affairs.”

This was compounded by the fact that the programme excluded me from the discussion, though I had been invited to join the debate via webcam; instead, the programme included only two supporters of the stoning and/or execution via webcam.

Since international protests have so far saved the life of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, it is all the more vital that accurate information be provided to the public on her case.

Please see my initial letter to BBC’s Sunday Morning Live and their inadequate response here.

Given that the programme has refused to supply corrections to their viewers, I ask that you look into this matter of clear media bias and misinformation.

I look forward to your response on this matter.


Maryam Namazie
Iran Solidarity
BM Box 2387
London WC1N 3XX, UK
Tel: +44 (0) 7719166731

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sajjad Ghaderzadeh's letter to the UN

Dear Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban-ki Moon,

I salute you and your colleagues. More power to you all.

I hope you will listen to what I humbly present to you in this letter.

My name is Sajad Ghaderzadeh. I am the son of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani. I know that my mother’s name is by now familiar to you. I also know that you are aware that she has been sentenced to death by stoning by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Since my mother’s sentencing we have been trying to contact the authorities of the Islamic Republic but to no avail. However, as the Iranian President is planned to deliver a speech at the General Assembly I am writing this letter hoping that you allow it to be read to the representatives of all the states. I implore you to do this for the sake of my mother as well as all others sentenced to stoning by the Islamic Republic. My hope is that through allowing this letter to be read to the heads of state, including the Iranian President, the punishment of stoning will be uprooted in Iran, my innocent mother be freed, and this will bring elation and pride to you and your colleagues.

What I have to say here is about my innocent mother who has spent the past five years behind bars in the hand of the Islamic Republic while no one in this government, especially from its judiciary, has given us any proper accounts.

I want everyone, especially Dr. Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran, to know that my father’s murder case has nothing whatsoever to do with my mother’s stoning case. My father’s murderer [Mr. Isa Taheri] was, as a matter of fact, forgiven and freed by me and my sister due to our humanity and our hatred for death penalty as well as for Qesaas [the Islamic code of punishment]. The murder case was thus pronounced closed. [Besides,] it was initially reviewed separately from her stoning case in a different court at a different branch of the judiciary.

Here I have to urge you to please note that the house and the office of our lawyer, Mr. Hootan Kian, were raided and his computer, all his files, including my mother’s, and some of his other belongings were taken. Consequently, we are now appealing to that esteemed institution [the United Nations] for non-material support of the world, especially that of the governments, to save my mother’s life as well as to protect my only sister, Mr. Kian, our lawyer, and myself from dangers that threaten our lives.

I should stipulate that I have tried very hard to meet with the President of Iran but to no avail. So I have to reach him in this way. [In response] he may say that the case does not pertain to him but to the judiciary. And I will reply that as far as we are concerned the Iranian judiciary has to this point delivered nothing but lies and falsities.

I should also point out to Dr. Ahmadinejad that we have been treated most iniquitously not only by the Islamic Republic but also by its television - like, generally, its entire media - that have broadcast fake interviews with my mother. Those interviews have been extracted under conditions of extreme physical pressure and psychological as well as moral coercion, caused by using our own family which has, for reasons relevant to the Iranian culture, has disowned us. At first Mr. [Mohammad Javad] Larijani, Secretary of the High Council for Human Rights of the Judiciary of the Islamic Republic, called my mother a murderer in Shargh newspaper, and lately Mr. Kazemzadeh, Secretary of North-Western District of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, has felt at liberty to interview my mother on television.

An officer of Human Rights who defends stoning and spreads false information about the accused is, evidently, not familiar with his duties.

There is no agreement to be seen between statements made by Messrs. Larijani and Kazemzadeh on various websites after my mother’s interview. But, looking closely, you will see that [before the interview] Mr. Kazemzadeh dragged my mother to the television interview in just the way Mr. Larijani had suggested through one of the media.

I hereby declare that all official statements issued by the Islamic Republic, including those by its High Council of Human Rights, are false and my mother’s stoning sentence is still standing. The sentence has not been cancelled but, as a result of our lawyer’s appeal of 7 July 2010, just stayed.

Here I would like to inform Dr. Ahmadinejad of the inconsistencies and ambiguities in my mother’s case so that he may become aware of the mistakes made by the judiciary.

The judge in the murder case and Mr. Sharifi, the head of judiciary of Tabriz, both have stated in an interview that my mother has committed several crimes, but they cannot reveal the matter [i.e., which crimes,] to the media due to considerations of Islamic proprieties. Now, what I want to ask is, given the same considerations above, how come my mother’s case has been disclosed by Mr. Kazemzadeh in not only all the press media but also on television with my mother’s picture clearly shown?

Further, my mother has never had any prison background, while Mr. Isa Taheri [my father’s murderer], as you may investigate and find out, has so far committed three murders. However, as it is, the Islamic Republic has set him free and attributed everything to my mother. But they should know that they cannot stone or hang an innocent woman with lies and fabrications.

My mother’s stoning sentence has been handed down by two judges in Tabriz, Messrs. Amini-Shadbash and Moosavi, on the basis of their ‘knowledge’. [In addition,] the official written statement of sentencing says that Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani has had adulterous relationships with strange men, but there is no mention of the names of these strange men so we can know such mutual relationships have existed.

As for the statements made by the judiciary, the fact that my mother has already received the punishment of 99 lashes is completely missing from these statements. More importantly, there is no mention of my mother’s latest confessions in which she had said she had lied about everything previously.

Whenever questioned [about this case] the authorities of the Islamic Republic have responded with saying that the judges are independent. In view of the track record of the Iranian judiciary, it is, indeed, tough to believe such a claim. The question is: what are your judges independent in doing? In taking a human being’s life? In sentencing men and women to stoning for no reason? Mr. Larijani [Secretary of the High Council of Human Rights of the Judiciary] actually defends stoning saying it exists in Islamic Sharia Law. But I ask all the states in the world to show us an Aya anywhere in the Glorious Qoran which says men and women should be stoned to death. [Even if it does and] it is true, it says it should be done based on testimony of witnesses as well as evidence, and not the ‘knowledge’ of the judges of the Islamic Republic.

O you who defend Palestine, Lebanon and Pakistan, why do you not have any sense of responsibility toward your own people?

In closing, I thank all governments, Dr. Ahmadinejad, and the United Nations. I hope what I had to say will be considered noteworthy.

I hereby request the honorable President of Iran to act most expeditiously and unconditionally to free my mother. I hope the punishment of stoning will not be inflicted in this country based on the judges’ ‘knowledge’; and be wiped off the Iranian law altogether.

I thank you, Mr. Secretary General, and all heads of state very much.

Sajad Ghadererzadeh

The has been translated by Jamshid Hadian and distributed by the International Committee Against Stoning.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Larry King: Now why don’t you interview Mina Ahadi and Sajjad Ghaderzadeh?

Mina Ahadi and Maryam Namazie
24 September 2010

Larry King’s overly cordial interview with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad failed to press the head of a repressive Islamic Republic of Iran on many issues raised, including on the Iran stoning case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani.

When asked about the stoning case, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad replied: ‘This lady's case has not been completely examined yet. No verdict has been issued yet. She is accused of being -- of murdering her husband. And I don't think in the world if someone is accused of murdering their husband, people would pour on the streets and rally in support of her.’ Without correcting the facts on the case, King then went on to say: ‘If they were going to stone her, they would.’ Ahmadinejad then said: ‘She has been accused of the murder of her husband. There is no verdict issued. No verdict, no sentence has been passed… And it is not about a stoning case at all. There's no stoning sentence here at all. A person in Germany made this claim, which was untrue. Our judiciary also said it was a false statement.’

Given the public outcry against stoning, it is understandable why Ahmadinejad prefers to lie on the issue.

In fact, however, a number of government officials have confirmed and defended the stoning sentence. In an interview on 8 September, Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, said that Ms Ashtiani’s stoning sentence was under review by the Supreme Court. In July 2010, Mohammad Javad Larijani, head of the Human Rights Department of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Judiciary, told IRNA state news agency that stoning is in the Islamic Republic's constitution and therefore the law. He went on to say that Ms Ashtiani’s case has gone through the routine procedures and that there is no ambiguities surrounding it. He added that protests would not affect judges or the execution of sentences since stoning is part of the sacred Sharia of Islam. Also in July, Malek Ajdar Sharifi, the top judicial official in the province where Ashtiani was convicted, said the verdict has been halted due to humanitarian reservations and upon the order of the judiciary chief, and would not be carried out for the moment.

Furthermore, the International Committee against Stoning has provided the actual court verdict sentencing Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani to death by stoning. In the Judgement (ref no. 38 - 85/6/19, dated 10 September 2006, Case reference number: 94 - 84/6 Province Criminal [Court], Reference number of the Head Penal Office: 237 - 84/11/18) the plaintiff is listed as the ‘Honourable Prosecutor of the General and Revolutionary Court of Tabriz’, the accused is listed as ‘Mrs Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, daughter of Asqar, of Tabriz address (Tabriz Prison)’ and the charge is listed as ‘Adultery [Zena-ye Mohseneh’]. Court documents can be found here.

Additionally, Ms. Ashtiani has been acquitted of murder. Even the man convicted of her husband’s murder has not been executed. In Iran, under Diyeh laws, the family of the victim can ask for the death penalty to be revoked. Ms Ashtiani’s son explains why he and his 17 year old sister spared the man’s life in an interview saying: ‘He is the father of a little girl who is three years old, who cried many tears before us. We, my sister and I, did not want to be the cause of his execution.’

Clearly the regime hopes to brand Ms Ashtiani a murderer in order to push back the immense international campaign in her defence. This, however, is unlikely given the outrage surrounding this case in particular and the barbaric practice of stoning in general. This is largely due to Ms Ashtiani’s children who pleaded for international support when she was to be imminently stoned to death and Mina Ahadi who is referred to by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a ‘person in Germany.’ Mina Ahadi accepts Ahmadinejad’s ‘accusation’ with pride.

Ms Ashtiani’s son, Sajjad Ghaderzadeh, has called on US media networks to organise a debate between him and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Larry King and Christiane Amanpour: You have interviewed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Now why don’t you interview Mina Ahadi and Sajjad Ghaderzadeh for the truth on Ms Ashtiani’s case, stoning and the regime in Iran?


1. You can see the video of the Larry King interview here.

2. For more information, contact:

Mina Ahadi, International Committee Against Stoning and International Committee Against Executions,, 0049 1775692413.

Maryam Namazie, Iran Solidarity,, 0044 7719166731, Iran Solidarity; Blog.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

On Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's lies about stoning

On Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s lies about stoning
By Farshad Hoseini

This is the second year that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s presence is causing a storm of international protests.

Last year, it was primarily due to Neda Agha-Soltan’s murder in broad daylight at a Tehran protest and this year it is the Iran stoning case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani.

Last year, under public pressure, Ahmadinejad outrageously declared that Neda had been killed by protestors rather than the regime’s own security forces. This year, he has outrageously announced that Sakineh was never sentenced to death by stoning.

The reason for his absurd claim is not that there is any truth in it but because of the massive international protest movement against stoning and executions in Iran led by the International Committee against Stoning and the International Committee against Execution.

The protest movement has condemned stoning as one of the most shameful crimes in human society - so shameful, in fact, that the leader of a regime of stoning has been forced to deny it outright! Rather than speaking from a position of power and defending Islamic rule and Sharia law, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been reduced to the weak and humiliating position of denying it altogether. This must be seen as a defeat for his regime that has stoned people for several decades and a victory for the movement against stoning.

Now is time to push forward and further expose and highlight the Islamic Republic of Iran’s crimes against humanity and demand that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his government be boycotted.

Here is some more information on stoning in Iran:

The beginning of stoning n Iran

In 1983, the contemporary Islamic Penal Code was ratified by Iran’s Islamic Assembly. Before this, however, stoning had been practiced in Iran since 1980. Based on the sources of a recently published report*, at least 10 persons were stoned to death in Iran before stoning became law as punishment for the ‘crime’ of adultery.

Amnesty International reported that 76 people were stoned in Iran from 1980 until 1989.

Mass stonings

Based on reports published by the Islamic Republic of Iran and its state media, in just one day, 15 persons including 12 women and 3 men were stoned together in a football stadium in the city of Bushehr.

Amnesty International reported that 26 people were stoned in Iran between January and May 1989.

Stoning during the Khomeini era (1980-1989)

During Khomeini’s era at least 76 people were stoned.

Stoning during the presidency of Mohammad Khatami (1997-2005)

During the presidency of Mohammad Khatami, the so-called “reformist” president, at least 28 people were stoned to death and 36 people sentenced to death by stoning.

Stoning during the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (2005-2010)

At least 8 people were stoned to death and 31 people sentenced to death by stoning during Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s presidency.

Stoning of children

The youngest girl who was sentenced to death by stoning was Ms. Zihla Izadi in the city of Bukan (Iranian Kurdistan) in 2004; she was 13 at the time. At the time she said: “I’m afraid; I’m afraid, please, help. I want to go away, I want to go to my friends and I want to go to school”… Fortunately her life was saved as a result of public pressure.

The youngest girl who was stoned to death was Saeideh in the city of Zahedan in 2008. She was 14 years old.

Other outrageous forms of punishment

In late May 1990, in the city of Neyshabour (northeastern Iran), a woman charged with adultery was thrown off a 10-story building. The execution was carried out in public, and the victim died on impact.

A woman named Bamani Fekri was sentenced to stoning, the blinding of both eyes and the payment of 100 gold dinars. After the verdict was issued, she committed suicide in prison.

Those saved from stoning

The International Committee against Stoning has saved the lives of 17 person including 14 women and 3 men from stoning to death.

Contradictory statements of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s authorities on stoning

In 2002, Iran's judiciary indicated that stoning would no longer be practiced in Iran by saying there was to be a moratorium.

But since 2003, eight people have been stoned to death, and 47 people have either been sentenced to death by stoning or the courts have upheld their stoning sentences.

In 2008, Iran's Islamic judiciary decided to scrap the punishment of stoning in draft legislation submitted to the Islamic Assembly for approval. But since then, 5 people have been stoned in 2008 and 2009 and 15 people have been handed stoning sentences.

As of June 2009, Iran's Islamic Assembly has been in the process of reviewing and revising the Islamic penal code to omit stoning as a form of punishment. But since then, 1 man has been stoned to death in 2009 and 11 people have been sentenced to death by stoning.

Note: These are only the cases for which documented evidence exists; it is certain that the actual numbers are higher.

* The report published by the International Committee against Stoning in August 2010 was written by Farshad Hoseini and is entitled “List of known cases of death by stoning sentences in Iran (1980-2010).” The report can be read here.

For more information, contact:
Farshad Hoseini
Tel: 31681285184

First photo of Sajjad, Sakineh's 22 year old son

This is the first photo of Sajjad, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani's 22 year old son. He is with Hatun Kian, Sakineh's lawyer. This photo may be used by the media without permission. Credit, however, must be given to the International Committee against Stoning. A new handwritten letter from Sajjad in Persian follows.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Is this United Against Fascism's official position?

I was just told that the lead spokesperson for Leicester UAF has responded on Facebook with the below in response to being asked why they marched in support of Sharia Law in London in June 2010:

'If Jews were the primary target of the EDL and solidarity with them meant standing with hardcore zionists, would that mean there was total confusion within UAF on Palestinian rights, or simply that solidarity with groups who are faced with persecution by fascists is not conditional upon their acceptance of a certain political or religious line? Indeed in the resistance to the Nazis during WW2, communists and zionists often united on that very basis'.

Here is my brief response, which I can't post on Facebook as it has blocked me from sending messages because I posted less than ten posts on Iran Solidarity, Save Sakineh and other campaign sites on the protests against Ahmadinejad's visit to the UN. Here it is:

It is this sort of warped logic that puts ‘progressive’ groups in bed with fascists – albeit the Islamic kind. Basically this logic sees people as being one and the same with far-Right reactionary organisations and movements. Jew=Zionist or Muslim=Islamist. Muslim=Islamic regime of Iran… I suppose given this sad logic, I should have joined forces with the BNP after the terrorist attack on July 7 in London!?!? British=British Nationalist Party? In the world according to the likes of the UAF, Muslims, and people living under Sharia law are one and the same with the regimes and the Islamic movement that is repressing them and that they are struggling against.

In any case, is this the UAF’s official policy? We are still waiting for a response on our letter on your position:

How pathetic if this is it.

Urgent Action: Call on UN General Assembly to condemn stoning, demand Sakineh’s release and boycott Ahmadinejad’s government

Urgent Action:
Call on UN General Assembly to condemn stoning, demand Sakineh’s release and boycott Ahmadinejad’s government
September 22, 2010

Mahmoud Ahamdinejad’s address to the UN General Assembly yesterday was in effect boycotted by delegates. Very few turned up to hear him speak and even less understood what he had to say as there was no translation.

But this is no where enough.

The UN General Assembly must issue an emergency resolution to condemn stoning and call for the immediate release of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani. Moreover, like Ahmadinejad’s speech, his government must be boycotted. A government that still stones people to death in the 21st century must have no place in the United Nations or any other international institution or body.

In the next two days, please send out the below message to the UN. You can either email it: or post it on their website. The letter has already been signed by 40 academics, campaigners and writers and published in the Guardian.

‘We are writing to ask that the UN general assembly condemn stoning as a crime against humanity and issue an emergency resolution calling for an end to the medieval and barbaric punishment as well as the immediate release of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani and others sentenced to death by stoning.

‘We also ask that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad not be allowed to address the general assembly and that his government be boycotted.

‘A government that still stones people to death in the 21st century must have no place in the United Nations or any other international institution or body.’

By the way, if you can, please stand in your city centre, tweet, or upload a video or photo showing your opposition to stoning and support for Sakineh. Of course if you are in NYC, please join the protests there.

Don’t forget to send in reports of your actions and protest emails and tweets to us at

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Warm wishes
Mina Ahadi
Patty Debonitas
Maryam Namazie
International Committee against Executions
International Committee against Stoning
Iran Solidarity

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Enough! On the 'storm' around Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani's case

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.


UN stoning call

An open letter signed by 40 writers, academics and campaigners calling for the boycott of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his government at the United Nations General Assembly was published in the Guardian today, 21 September 2010.

Monday, September 20, 2010

An Update on the Save Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani campaign


Thanks to all of you who supported the 18 September day of action in support of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani and against stoning and flogging.

You can see a visual report of some of the actions here. Highlights include a rally of over 150 people in Brussels organised by Brussels humanists/secularists, MPs and Amnesty International as well as nearly 20,000 people chanting ‘stop stoning now’ at the Protest the Pope rally in London at which I spoke along with Terry Sanderson, Pragna Patel, Richard Dawkins, Johann Hari, Peter Tatchell and others.

Our next actions are on 10 October, International Day against the Death Penalty, and against Ahmadinejad’s visit to New York to address the UN General Assembly this week.

In protest to Ahmadinejad’s visit, 40 campaigners, academics and writers have called on the UN General Assembly to issue an emergency resolution calling for an end to the medieval and barbaric punishment of stoning as well as the immediate release of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani and all those sentenced to death by stoning. The open letter also asks that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad not be allowed to address the General Assembly and that his government be boycotted. You can see the letter here.

Just recently, Ahmadinejad has said in an interview with ABC network that Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani had never been sentenced to death by stoning. Her son, Sajjad, a 22 year old transport worker, has challenged him to a debate on this. In Sajjad’s letter distributed by the International Committees against Stoning and Execution, he says: ‘For peoples’ information, we will publish documents of our mother’s stoning sentence, issued by the offices that work under Mr. Ahmadinejad’s presidency, so the world can judge his words objectively.’ He goes on to ask ABC network to ‘arrange for a live broadcast discussion between Mr. Ahmadinejad and I on these issues...’ You can read his full statement here and also see copies of the actual stoning sentence here.

In Ahmadinejad’s interview he also blames: ‘someone in Germany’ for the uproar surrounding Ms Ashtiani’s case. Mina Ahadi’s response will be translated into English shortly. In her statement in Persian she ‘accepts the “accusation” with pride!’

By the way, Facebook had disabled Mina and my accounts recently right before the 18 September day of action for Sakineh and against stoning. After many letters of protest from supporters, and an open letter to Facebook founders by a number of well-known personalities, my account has been enabled again, though Mina’s has not. Please keep writing to Facebook until they enable her account as well.

Finally, please don’t forget to donate to the Save Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani campaign. Thank you for all your donations so far but we need a lot more money to be able to cover all our costs. You can donate via cheque or Paypal here. No amount is too small or too big!

Thanks again

Warm wishes


Maryam Namazie
Iran Solidarity
BM Box 2387
London WC1N 3XX, UK
Tel: +44 (0) 7719166731

Ahmadinejad and his government must be boycotted at the upcoming UN General Assembly Meeting

We, the undersigned, are writing to ask that the UN General Assembly condemn stoning as a crime against humanity and issue an emergency resolution calling for an end to the medieval and barbaric punishment as well as the immediate release of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani and others sentenced to death by stoning.

We also ask that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad not be allowed to address the General Assembly and that his government be boycotted.

A government that still stones people to death in the 21st century must have no place in the United Nations or any other international institution or body.


Mina Ahadi, Spokesperson, International Committee against Stoning and International Committee against Execution, Germany
Maryam Namazie, Spokesperson, Iran Solidarity, Equal Rights Now and One Law for All, UK
Shahla Abghari, Women’s Rights Activist, USA
Boaz Adhengo, Project Nabuur Capital, Kenya
Ophelia Benson, Editor, Butterflies and Wheels, USA
Helle Merete Brix, Writer and Journalist, Denmark
Roy W Brown, International Humanist and Ethical Union, UN Geneva Main Representative, Switzerland
Ewa Dąbrowska-Szulc, President, Pro Femina Association, Poland
Richard Dawkins, Scientist and Author, UK
Sanal Edamaruku, President, Rationalist International, India
Sonja Eggerickx, President, International Humanist Ethical Union, Belgium
Caroline Fourest, Writer and Columnist, France
A C Grayling, Writer and Philosopher, UK
Maria Hagberg, Chairperson, Network Against Honour Related Violence, Sweden
Leo Igwe, Executive Director, Nigerian Humanist Movement, Nigeria
Hope Knutsson, President, Sidmennt the Icelandic Ethical Humanist Association Reykjavik, Iceland
Julia Kristeva, Président, Jury du Prix Simone de Beauvoir pour la Liberté des Femmes, France
Ghulam Mustafa Lakho, Advocate High Court of Sindh, Pakistan
Anne-marie Lizin, Senate Honorary Speaker, Belgium
Huguette Chomski Magnis, President of Mouvement Pour la Paix et Contre le Terrorisme, France
Reine Marcelis, President, Synergie Wallonie pour l’Egalité entre les Femmes et les Hommes, Belguim
Pragna Patel, Chair, Southall Black Sisters, UK
Fariborz Pooya, Director, Iranian Secular Society, UK
Hassan Radwan, Management Committee, Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, UK
Yasmin Rehman, Women’s Rights Campaigner, UK
Terry Sanderson, President, National Secular Society, UK
Michael Schmidt-Salomon, Philosopher, Writer, and Spokesman of The Giordano Bruno Foundation, Germany
Udo Schuklenk, Professor of Philosophy and Ontario Research Chair in Bioethics, Canada
Daniel Salvatore Schiffer, Philosopher and Writer, Belgium
Issam Shukri, Head, Committee for the Defence of Secularism and Civil Rights in Iraq, Canada
Joan Smith, Writer and Human Rights Activist, UK
Annie Sugier, President, Ligue du Droit International des Femmes, France
Viviane Teitelbaum, MP and President of the Council of Women, Belgium
Giti Thadani, Writer and Filmmaker, India
Shishir Thadani, South Asian Voice, India
Richy Thompson, President, The National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies, UK
Olga Trostiansky, President, Coordination Française pour le Lobby Européen des Femmes, France
Nira Yuval-Davis, Organising Group, Women Against Fundamentalism, UK
Michèle Vianès, Regards de Femmes, France
Ibn Warraq, Author, USA

A Visual report of 18 September protests

See a visual report of 18 September day of action here.

Sajjad challenges Ahmadinejad to a debate

PR 72 September 19, 2010

Sajjad Ghaderzadeh, son of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani:

Open letter to the honorable editors of the ABC News Network,

I challenge Mr. Ahmadinejad to a debate on your network.

This morning, Sunday, September 19, we read from various Iranian news networks that Mr. Ahmadinejad has commented about the case of our mother, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, and in the face of the world has made statements that contain not a shred of truth. This saddens me, as if we have occupied ourselves and endeavored to save our mother's life and end this horrendous nightmare out of boredom or not having anything better to do. For peoples' information, we will publish documents of our mother's stoning sentence, issued by the offices that work under Mr. Ahmadinejad's presidency, so the world can judge his words objectively.

We humbly ask your honorable network to arrange for a live broadcast discussion between Mr. Ahmadinejad and I on these issues, so that he can answer questions about his statements and uncertainties regarding our mother's case. Once again, I demand that our innocent mother be released.

Sajjad Ghaderzadeh,
son of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani,
September 19, 2010

Here is an English translation of Sakineh's stoning sentence.

Here are documents in Persian showing Sakineh was sentenced to stoning:

The letter was disseminated for the first time by the Committees against Stoning and Execution

International Committee Against Stoning
International Committee Against Execution
0049-177 569 2413

Translated by Mission Free Iran

Sunday, September 19, 2010

We don’t want the ‘corrective supplied by religion’

Maryam Namazie’s speech at the Protest the Pope Rally
18 September 2010

We are gathered here today to show our opposition to the pope’s visit – for being state-funded but also to show our opposition to his views and the adverse role religion plays in the private and particularly the public spheres.

The pope says we need the ‘corrective supplied by religion.’

That’s exactly what we don’t need.

Look around. Everywhere we see the murder and mayhem ‘supplied by religion.’ We are not speaking of another planet or centuries past where one can get away with saying such things.

Every second of every minute of every hour of every day, we see the ‘corrective supplied by religion’ – on stem cell research, family planning, exemptions to discriminate, the segregation of our children in faith schools and the demand for parallel legal systems – including Sharia law and the Beth Dinn…

What’s even worse is Islam.

Not because Islam is worse than Christianity or other religions - fundamentally they are all the same - but because Islam has state power in many places.

Sharia law is now the most widely implemented religious law worldwide. And under Sharia law, child rape and sexual abuse is legal – what with child marriages allowed from age 9 and even younger if permitted by the girl’s male guardian. Gays are executed. Apostates and freethinkers are hung. Protestors like Neda Agha-Soltan are shot dead in broad daylight and women are sentenced to death by stoning for sex outside of marriage – like Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani.

Today’s Islam is the like Christianity during the inquisition.

We are living today under an Islamic inquisition – one that needs another enlightenment to push it back.

A significant part of the battle against the pope and religion’s role has to be against Islamism.

But suddenly, it is deemed racism!

Isn’t it actually racist to say that ‘different’ people have ‘different’ rights and freedoms?

Suddenly it is deemed ‘moral imperialism.’

As if stoning is people’s culture. As if Sharia courts are people’s culture. Whose culture are we speaking of. The culture of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani who is fighting to live or the culture of the Islamic regime in Iran that wants to stone her? The culture of the Sharia court that gives women no choices or the women who wants to live free from violence?

This is not people’s culture; it is the pope’s culture, the Islamic regime of Iran’s culture, Islamism’s culture.

It’s not yours or mine.

It’s not moral imperialism but a moral imperative to intervene on humanity’s behalf.

The pope speaks of ‘secular intolerance.’ Nothing is more intolerant than religion. It is intolerant of gays, of women, of love, of sex, of music, of your choice of clothing…

It is a crime to be a human being under Sharia law in Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and even parts of Britain where many have been handed over lock stock and barrel to the Islamic movement.

As I’ve said before, it is a question of choice.

We choose humanity whilst the pope, Ahmadinejad and Islamists choose religious dogma at the expense of humanity.

The pope complains of ‘aggressive secularists.’ Well they haven’t seen anything yet.

We’re going to push them back.

We want to – demand to - live in the 21st century.


To mark, 18 September, a day of action in defence of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a 43 mother of two, who has been sentenced to death by stoning, I ask that you all chant with me: Free Sakineh Now and Stop Stoning Now.

Thank you.


You can see the speech here on Youtube.

To see speeches of others, including Richard Dawkins, Johann Hari, Terry Sanderson, Peter Tatchell, Pragna Patel and others, click here.

Maryam is spokesperson for Iran Solidarity, Equal Rights Now, the One Law for All Campaign against Sharia Law in Britain and the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain. She is a National Secular Society Honorary Associate and the NSS' 2005 Secularist of the Year award winner and a Distinguished Supporter of the British Humanist Association. She was selected one of the top 45 women of the year 2007 by Elle magazine Quebec.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Statement of the protest action of September 18, 2010 against the Regime of Flogging and Stoning

Today's international actions are a continuation of the international actions of July 24th and August 28, 2010. They are yet another reflection of the solidarity of people around the world with the people of Iran, who have risen heroically to bring down the Islamic regime of stoning and qesas and hijab and torture and execution. Today, once again, we declare that this regime is the murderer of Iranian people and the shame of humanity. It must be replaced by a humane government.

Flogging and stoning and execution and imprisonment and torture are political tools of this government, used to terrorize the society and suppress the rising wave of peoples' protests. And today, people all over the world identify the Islamic Republic with this savagery. People around the world have very well realized that this is a religious, reactionary and misogynist government that has forcibly imposed a system of gender apartheid, reactionary sharia law and total denial of legal rights upon Iranian people.

Today, on the 18th of September 2010, as a continuation of the demands of the 100 Cities of the World protests on August 28, we declare our demands as follows:

1. We fully support the struggle of Iranian people against this savage, religious regime. We declare that the path to freedom for Iranian people is not through threats, military incursions, or economic sanctions, but rather is through the force of peoples' struggle in Iran and all across the world to pull down the Islamic Republic.

2. Flogging, stoning, execution and torture should be abolished. We demand that the United Nations, in a special resolution, unequivocally forbids these kinds of punishments in all countries.

3. We demand that Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani and all of those who have been imprisoned on charges of extramarital sexual relationships or homosexuality, as well as all political prisoners, should be freed from the Islamic Republic's prisons immediately.

4. We declare that the Islamic Regime of Stoning should not be recognized as the Iranian government. This regime should be expelled from all international organizations, and all political contacts with it should be severed. We declare that the leaders of the Islamic Republic should be prosecuted in international court on charges of 31 years of genocide, mass executions of tens of thousands of political prisoners, gender apartheid, imprisonment, torture, execution, rape, and Islamic sharia's inhumane punishments, all of which are flagrant violations of all international conventions and agreements.

We, along with the Iranian people, will continue our struggle until we achieve our demands. As an urgent action we strongly demand that Ahmadinejad, the president of the Regime of Stoning, be banned from the United Nations' General Assembly in September 2010.

Friday, September 17, 2010

18 September 2010

Come out in full force against regime of stoning and flogging on September 18; protests will be held in over 30 cities worldwide

Join us.

I will be speaking about Sakineh at the Protest the Pope rally in London on the same day. Speakers at the protest march and rally organised to coincide with the day of the Pope’s prayer vigil in Hyde Park on Saturday 18th September have been announced. Protesters will gather at Hyde Park Corner before marching to Richmond Terrace (opposite Downing Street) for a rally which will include speeches from:
· Barbara Blaine, SNAP, the Survivor’s Network of those Abused by Priests
· Clara Connolly, Women Against Fundamentalism
· Andrew Copson, British Humanist Association
· Sue Cox, sex abuse survivor
· Professor Richard Dawkins, scientist
· Dr Ben Goldacre, journalist
· Johann Hari, journalist
· Father Bernard J Lynch, an openly gay catholic priest
· Maryam Namazie, One Law for All and Iran Solidarity
· Pragna Patel, Southall Black Sisters
· Terry Sanderson, National Secular Society
· Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner

Latest on Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani case

Latest on Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani case

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani forced to do another TV ‘interview’
Sajjad, Sakineh’s son, refused visitation again

September 18 protests against regime of stoning and flogging to be held in over 30 cities worldwide

Maryam Namazie’s Facebook account has been enabled but Mina Ahadi’s is still disabled

See open letter to Facebook founders on the matter

Sajjad Refused Visitation Again

PR 70

September 16, 2010

Sajjad Refused Visitation Again

Today, Thursday, like usual, Sajjad went to Tabriz prison to visit his mother [Sakineh Ashtiani]. They told him, "Sakineh is still not permitted to visit with you. Stop bothering us and don't come back. Whenever there is a possibility of visitation, we'll let you know." This is while Vahid Kazemzadeh, chairman of the Islamic Republic's Human Rights Commission's 7th District announced on the 8th of September that Sakineh has unlimited freedoms in the prison and visitation with Sajjad and Saideh takes place every week.
We condemn the despicable way the Islamic Republic treats Sakineh and her children, and we demand Sakineh's immediate and unconditional freedom. In fact, it is the leaders of the Islamic regime who should be prosecuted for 31 years of execution, stoning, flogging and torture.
International Committee against Stoning
International Committee against Execution
September 16, 2010

International Committee Against Stoning (

International Committee Against Execution (

Spokesperson: Mina Ahadi 0049-177-569-2413

Sakineh was forced to perform another television "interview"

PR 69
September 16, 2010
Once again, on Wednesday [September 15], Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani appeared on the 20:30 program of Seda va Sima, the Islamic Republic's state television, and made statements to the effect that "I have not been tortured," "my participation in the previous interview was my own decision," and "whatever I have said in confession against myself has been my own words."

It is has been a month since Sakineh has been deprived of visits with her children and her lawyer, and her connection with the outside world has been severed. Yet they [the Islamic Republic] has brought her in front of the television cameras to say whatever they have dictated to her. They cannot explain why a prisoner would appear on the television screen, in total freedom, to confess against herself, rather than to protest against what they have done to her.

These television shows, orchestrated by the Information Ministry and the judicial apparatus, are called "interviews," but the whole world understands them to be a [coerced] show. And that merely broadcasting such an "interview" is enough to demonstrate how vulnerable and dispossessed Iranian prisoners are. If Sakineh had the least of freedom of speech, her first sentence would have been, "Why have I been deprived of seeing Sajjad and Saideh [her children] and my lawyer, deprived even of telephone contact with them?" Her second and third questions would have been, "Why are women not considered human under your regime?" And "Why, and for what charge, have I been flogged? Under what charge have I been sentenced to stoning and why have I spent 5 years in prison? Why has my closed file been opened again? Why has my lawyer's home and office been ransacked, and why have you stolen my files? And why is your mass media propagating against me?"
Here, a government in its entirety, including the judiciary system, the state television, and the diplomatic system, have been mobilized against an imprisoned woman. Her connection to the outside world has been cut off, and she has been denied any right to defend herself, in order to pave the way to her execution. This reflects how absolutely a person in the Islamic Republic's prisons is bereft of any and all rights. It also shows the desperation of the regime.

We condemn the despised Seda va Sima, the Islamic Republic's state television, and we demand commutation of Sakineh's execution and stoning sentence and her immediate and unconditional freedom. We call upon everyone to join the international protests on the 18th of September. The only answer to the Islamic Republic, both inside Iran and in the international arena, is intensified protest.

International Committee against Stoning
International Committee against Execution
September 16, 2010
The link of interview with Sakineh.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Harsh judgments on the pope

See an open letter signed by myself and others published in today's Guardian on the pope's visit.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

My Facebook account has been reinstated but I am not returning without Mina

UPDATE 21 September 2010: No further action required - both Mina and my Facebook accounts have been reinstated. Thanks for all your help on this!

Hi all

Just to send you all a huge thank you for your help on this. Facebook has written to me apologising for the inconvenience and reinstating my account. There wasn't much explanation given other than some general recommendations, which don't really apply to me. I have written asking for clarification on why this happened. I haven't returned to Facebook though because Mina's account has still not been reinstated. I'll only come back when she does.

Thanks again. Will keep you posted.

An open letter to Facebook founder on Maryam and Mina's Facebook accounts

UPDATE 21 September 2010: No further action required - both Mina and my Facebook accounts have been reinstated. Thanks for all your help on this!

Mr Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook Headquarters
156 University Avenue
Palo Alto
California 94301-1605

Dear Mr Zuckerberg,

I am writing to ask that you reinstate the Facebook accounts of Maryam Namazie and Mina Ahadi as a matter of urgency. Their accounts were disabled without warning on Monday 13 September 2010. As well as reinstating these accounts, we ask that an explanation is provided as to why they were disabled.

Maryam Namazie and Mina Ahadi are well known human rights campaigners who have worked globally to end the barbaric practice of stoning, as well as other human rights abuses. Both have been awarded Secularist of the Year by the National Secular Society (UK) and named in the top 45 ‘women of the year’ by Elle magazine in Canada.

Ms Namazie and Ms Ahadi’s campaign to save the life of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani – an Iranian woman recently sentenced to death by stoning for adultery – has undoubtedly contributed to the prevention of her execution. Therefore, it is vital that their Facebook accounts be reinstated and their campaigns allowed to continue unfettered; Facebook provides them with an important communications tool and method of increasing support for their work.

Not only were these accounts disabled without warning, but without reason. At present therefore, we have little choice but to assume that their Facebook accounts have disabled for political reasons.

Please clarify the reasons for these accounts being disabled, and whether or not Facebook respects the rights of human rights campaigners to work freely and without prejudice on your website.

We look forward to your immediate response.

Anne Marie Waters, Spokesperson, One Law for All, UK
Terry Sanderson, President, National Secular Society, UK
Ophelia Benson, Editor, Butterflies and Wheels, USA
Hassan Radwan, Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, UK
Joan Smith, Journalist, UK
Professor A. C. Grayling, Philosopher, UK
Fariborz Pooya, Iranian Secular Society, UK
Mahin Alipour, Equal Rights Now, Sweden
Annie Sugier, President, Ligue du Droit Internaitonal des Femmes, France
Nazanin Afshin-Jam, Human Rights Activist and President, Stop Child Executions, Canada
Maria Hagberg, Chair person of the Network Against Honour Related Violence, Sweden
Issam Shukri, Organization to Defend Secularism and Civil Rights in Iraq, Canada
Sonja Eggerickx, President, International Humanist and Ethical Union, Belgium

Protest Facebook's disabling of Maryam Namazie and Mina Ahadi's accounts

UPDATE 21 September 2010: No further action required - both Mina and my Facebook accounts have been reinstated. Thanks for all your help on this!

As you know since yesterday Mina Ahadi and my Facebook accounts have been disabled. I have written to Facebook asking them to reinstate our accounts but have yet to receive a response. Anne Marie Waters, of One Law for All, is currently writing a letter to the heads of Facebook on this. We can only see this as an attack on the campaign to save Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani and call on Facebook to immediately reinstate our accounts as we need them in order to highlight this important campaign and the many others we work on.

Activist Abbas Goya has asked people to write protest emails to Facebook about this.

Here is his email to them, which also gives you email addresses that you can use to file your complaint:


Cc: Mina Ahadi; Maryam Namazie

Subject: Strongest Objection: FB appears fallen into Islamic Republic Terror attempt

To Whom It May Concern

This is to notify Facebook about my strongest objection for disabling two Iranian renown Human Rights activists accounts almost simultaneously.

I personally believe that Islamic Republic agents have something to do with it and Facebook appears to have fallen into their trap.

Please reinstate their accounts IMMEDIATELY.

A thorough, detailed note is posted and shared on his wall.

BTW, I know that many others have been emailing Facebook as well. Thank you for that. Please keep pressuring Facebook until they reinstate us.

Will keep you posted on what happens.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Remember Us! A letter from Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani's two children

These days, still,
We are lost in our pursuit.

Time goes by and
We become more complicated,
We become less capable of making sense of this life.
How can we make sense of this life?

Sure enough, like children all do,
We too knew the secrets of the universe.
We too listened to the tales told by the flowers…
Oh, not to forget the butterflies!
Alas, our childhood was lost in our pursuit!

Dear Mother!
We are so tired now; now more than ever, we long for the tranquillity, the warmth of being held in your arms. We are exhausted from chilling accusations, tired from crying in our loneliness, weary of weeping in the crowd of strangers. We are spent from walking through our lives alone on an unlit path, being so scared, so constantly, that fear now takes pity on us. We ache from travelling this lonely path of sadness. We want to cry with you; you wipe our tears from our cheeks. We want to hold on to you, and stand alone no more; we yearn to kiss your cheeks.

Yes dearest mother!
It is years since we felt your protecting presence in our lives, or that of our father. Our eyes are fixed on the door; might they let us hear from you? We want to part from this stalemate; but not without you, dearest companion.

We ask ourselves: Who are we? Why are we here? What was the purpose of our existence? Was it to be tortured? Why and for how long? We were left alone, having only each other to hold on to, in the chill, dark, fear-filled alleys. While other little girls sat on their mothers' knees having their hair combed, my sister, in the bitter cold with only a shirt on, stood shivering behind the high walls, begging to be allowed to see our mother. While I (Sajjad) was witnessing my father’s painful murder - and even more painful, the false, dirty accusations against our mother of killing our father, by those of the Islamic Republic with stones in their hands - those my age sat together with their fathers going through their homework. If we had been given a chance to go to school, we would have loved to write the word “mother” wrong, only so we could draw the punishment from the teacher to write and re-write a thousand times on a clean, white sheet of paper: “mother”!

Would Victor Hugo, if he were alive, create his Les Misérables, and Cosette and Fantine, or Charles Dickens his Oliver Twist and Fagin, when they had us to write about? If Cosette later found her Jean Valjean, if Oliver Twist had his Mr. Brownlow to protect him, the story of our lives is abysmal, is a black whirlpool of breathtaking uncertainty. It is an unfair fall into an endless helplessness. Our protector Mr. Kian (Sakineh's lawyer) himself has no haven to turn to. He may no longer set foot in the court because he has defended us; he himself needs a (defense lawyer and) protector. What a tragedy is this story of our lives and our future. Perhaps that Information agent was right last week, saying, as they ransacked our lawyer's office: “Even if you get your mother back, we won’t let you have a life. The world is concerned with your mother, yet you are at our mercy.” How deadly is religious fundamentalism, and how back-breaking the weight of the cross we carry on our back.

We don’t really know what would have become of us if we didn’t have Mr. Kian in Iran, and you abroad. We really don’t know and can’t imagine that. The day I, in tears and total desperation, called an angel named Mina Ahadi, the day that conscience placed Mr. Kian on the same path with us, the day that we were embraced by your support - these are the only moments of joyful hope in our miserable lives. These are the lanterns burning amidst total darkness and hopelessness. So... we humbly beg you, remember us and those like us. Remember our lawyer Mr. Kian and all those like him. Remember Shiva Nazar Ahari, Mohammad Oliyifard, Nasrine Sotoudeh, and all those like them.

We humbly beg you!
Sajjad and Sayideh, to the whole world.

Translation: Ahmad Fatemi, Maria Rohaly

Facebook has disabled Mina Ahadi and my accounts!

UPDATE 21 September 2010: No further action required - both Mina and my Facebook accounts have been reinstated. Thanks for all your help on this!

Update: I just found out that Facebook has also disabled Mina Ahadi's account - it is becoming quite clear what this is all about, isn't it?

Here's what I had written earlier. We are working on a letter to the heads of Facebook on this.


Facebook has disabled my account. When I went to log in today, I found I could no longer access it. Other than the below general note, I can't seem to find anyway to email or speak to someone about this to reinstate it.

The reasons the general notes say it may be disabled are:

■Continued prohibited behavior after receiving a warning or multiple warnings from Facebook
(I have never received any warning - not even this time)

■Unsolicited contact with others for the purpose of harassment, advertising, promoting, dating, or other inappropriate conduct
(I only contact people in groups of which I am admin for.)

■Use of a fake name
(I am obviously using my real name)

■Impersonation of a person or entity, or other misrepresentation of identity
(Again not the case here with me)

■Posted content that violates Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities (this includes any obscene, pornographic, or sexually explicit photos, as well as any photos that depict graphic violence. We also remove content, photo or written, that threatens, intimidates, harasses, or brings unwanted attention or embarrassment to an individual or group of people)
(Err, I know I have been threatened on Facebook and they are all still around but it's never been the other way around so not sure why my account has been disabled....)

They do also add in the general note:

'If you have not posted violating content or otherwise violated our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, keep in mind that your account may have been recently compromised by someone else. Also, our systems sometimes disable accounts temporarily for security reasons.'

This is the most likely reason - so Facebook reinstate my account immediately please.

Interesting that this happens whilst we are organising for September protests though isn't it?

BTW, if anyone knows how to get my account active again, can you please advise. I can't find one email address or contact form to fill out.



Saturday, September 11, 2010

Stoning is not people’s culture – it’s the regime’s!

On the psychologist and the executioner

On the 5 September BBC Sunday Morning Live debate on ‘whether it is right to condemn Iran for stoning, studio guest psychologist Aric Sigmund made some interesting (to say the least) contributions during the debate ‘is it right to condemn Iran for stoning.’ He said:

‘I have been to Iran by the way, and like many places it’s a shame - one of the kindest cultures who are terribly kind to children; we never see that on the news, we only see the extreme things. But aside from that this is a really a question about moral imperialism. I think we should obviously protest but that is very different from expecting them to conform to the way we do things...’ He went on to say: ‘we expect every other culture because we have computers and nuclear power and so on that they will evolve their legal system as quickly as we have changed ours.’ (Italics are mine)

I know. I know…

I am not sure what this is called in clinical terms, but in political ones, it is a classic case of cultural relativism, which is the basic need to explain - and in truth condone - vile regimes and legal systems by saying it is part of people’s culture.

After all whose culture are we talking about?

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani’s culture (educated until 5th grade) who ‘wants to live’ or that of the Islamic regime of Iran that wants to kill her?


Sakineh’s 22 year old transport worker son, Sajjad, who writes open letters to the people of the world despite threats and intimidations asking for help in saving his mother’s life or the regime that has already flogged his mother twice – once in front of his very eyes when he was only 17?

Whose culture?

Mina Ahadi’s who is spearheading the international campaign in her defence or the regime that executed Mina’s first husband in the very same prison Sakineh languishes in?


Neda’s and the millions who poured out onto the streets in 2009 or the regime that shot at protestors and killed her in broad daylight?

The people who are kind to children that Aric Sigmund probably met when he travelled to Iran are not one and the same with a regime that has the highest rate of child executions in the world.

I don’t think this is so hard to understand. You can’t sweep the death penalty in the US under the carpet by saying Americans are kind, now can you? But somehow this is acceptable when it comes to a place like Iran.

And by the way, are Sakineh and Sajjad ‘moral imperialists’ for opposing stoning in Iran? And am I one for opposing executions in the US and elsewhere? How absurd. The whole point of political and social protest movements like the international campaign to save Sakineh’s life is that people everywhere have a right and duty to intervene on humanity’s behalf. To say otherwise, when it comes to a place like Iran – is the racism of lower expectations and double standards.

And of course Aric Sigmund does not come on BBC programmes to say that people’s legal systems need time to evolve when the likes of the Islamic regime of Iran takes power and - within one month - imposes compulsory veiling on women and girls via brute force. The cultural defence only ever supports reaction and medievalism, and never the progressive demands and values of people resisting it day in and day out.

Clearly, first and foremost, it comes down to a matter of choice. One either chooses the culture of the regime and the executioner – as Aric Sigmund has - or that of Sakineh, Sajjad and the protesting people of Iran – as millions of others have.


The above is part of a series of responses to a 5 September BBC Sunday Morning Live programme.
Here are my previous entries:

Ayatollah BBC, 10 September

A woman’s life is at stake, a reply to BBC Sunday Morning Live Executive Producer’s email, 9 September

An open letter to the BBC Sunday Morning Live programme on its bias against Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, 8 September. You can see the programme in this entry.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Ayatollah BBC

Below is another email from the BBC Sunday Morning Live Executive Producer dated 10 September which still refuses to respond to my criticism or request. Since the programme clearly doesn’t want to address this issue in an unbiased manner, I won’t be replying. What for? Instead I will take my complaint to a higher public body and will report back here when I do.

As an aside, though, there’s a good reason they are known as Ayatollah BBC in Iran. After all who holds a debate entitled ‘is it right to condemn Iran for stoning’ when the regime has stepped up its efforts to kill Sakineh? And whilst the whole world has risen up in outrage?

Here’s the second email:

Dear Ms Namazie

Thanks for your email.

We completely understand the depth of feeling you express on this subject. That is precisely why we held the debate about stoning in Iran.
When referring to "official" Iranian government policy on this issue Susanna was very careful to use that word each time - "officially". That clearly implies this is a government line - not necessarily one to be credibly believed. Otherwise we simply would not have had a reason to debate a subject which as I said we may well return to.
We had two contributors from outside of the studio who provided context to a debate in which our studio guests entirely condemned stoning. As I mentioned in my previous email, I regret that we did not have sufficient time during the discussion to take your contribution.
Richard Pattinson
Executive Producer
Sunday Morning Live

Iran stoning case: ‘Our mother is innocent and should be released unconditionally’

Join September days of action against stoning, execution and flogging in Iran


Since I last wrote to you Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani has again been flogged 99 times for an unveiled photo mistakenly attributed to her. She has also been threatened with execution, and denied visitation rights. Even, her lawyer’s home (Hatoun Kian) has been ransacked and his computer and documents seized. Court documents pertaining to Ms Ashtiani’s husband’s closed murder case have also gone missing.

Her 22-year-old son Sajjad is extremely concerned that the Iranian authorities are trying to frame Ms Ashtiani for his father’s murder by constructing a ‘new’ murder case to refute the stoning sentence. Unfortunately a number of media outlets have bought into the lie (see for example BBC Sunday Morning Live’s bias here. In fact, the press have been given a copy of the actual court judgment of stoning for adultery at a 30 July press conference in London. Also, even the man who has been found guilty of murdering her husband has not been executed. In Iran, under Diyeh laws, the family of the victim can ask for the death penalty to be revoked. Ms Ashtiani’s son explains why he and his 17 year old sister spared the man’s life in an interview with French writer and philosopher, Bernard-Henri Levy.

Despite all the regime’s outrages against Ms Ashtiani, her lawyers and family, on 8 September, a government official had the audacity to deceivingly claim that Ms Ashtiani had not been denied visitation rights, that her televised confession was not made under duress, and that she had not been flogged again. He also went on to say that her execution had been halted when no official documents halting her stoning or execution have been given to her lawyer or family.

Clearly this is yet another one of the regime’s ploys to push back the international campaign in her defence by giving the false impression that Ms Ashtiani is safe.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

On 18 September, we call on citizens everywhere to come out in defence of Ms Ashtiani and against the regime of flogging, stoning and execution. We are also calling for protests during 23-24 September when Ahmadinejad will be addressing the UN General Assembly.

Nothing can and will stop us from defending Sakineh’s precious life and bringing an end to the medieval and barbaric punishments of stoning and execution.

Let’s keep the pressure on.

We look forward to receiving news of your actions and events at Actions for Sakineh.

Warmest wishes


Maryam Namazie


1- Find out about 18 September 2010 and 23-24 September 2010 actions here. The events will be updated on a daily basis.

2- Send actions you are organising in your city of residence to so we can post it on the events page.

If you need help organising an event, see our toolkit on how to organise an action in your city.

3- See reports from the brilliant 100 Cities against Stoning that took place on 28 August. Thanks to all of you who participated. It was an historic day and hopefully one of many more to come!

4- See an updated list of those stoned or awaiting death by stoning compiled by the International Committee against Executions here.

5- Send Sakineh a postcard telling her you are thinking of her and other prisoners on death row in Tabriz prison. You can address it to:
Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani
Tabriz Prison
Tabriz, Iran

6- Write letters of protest to the Islamic regime of Iran demanding Ashtiani’s release and an end to stonings, floggings and executions. Protest letters can be addressed to the below:

Head of the Judiciary
Sadeqh Larijani
Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh (Office of the Head of the Judiciary)
Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhouri
Tehran 1316814737, Iran
Email: or via website
First starred box: your given name; second starred box: your family name; third: your email address

Head of the Judiciary in East Azerbaijan Province
Malek-Ashtar Sharifi
Office of the Head of the Judiciary in Tabriz
East Azerbaijan, Iran

Ali Khamenei
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street - Shahid Keshvar Doust Street
Tehran, Iran
Email: (English)

Secretary General, High Council for Human Rights
Mohammad Javad Larijani
Howzeh Riassat-e Ghoveh Ghazaiyeh
Pasteur St, Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhuri
Tehran 1316814737, Iran
Fax: +98 21 3390 4986

7- Sign petitions in support of her case if you haven’t already done so. Here are two of them here and here.

8- Write to government officials, heads of state, MEPs and MPs in your country of residence and the UN calling on them to intervene to save her life and to cease recognition of a regime that stones people to death in the 21st century.

9- Donate to the important work of the International Committee Against Stoning, International Committee Against Executions and Iran Solidarity by making your cheque payable to ‘Count Me In – Iran’ and sending it to BM Box 6754, London WC1N 3XX, UK. You can also pay via Paypal. Please earmark your donation.

10- For more information, contact:
Mina Ahadi, International Committee Against Stoning and International Committee Against Executions,, 0049 1775692413.

Maryam Namazie, Iran Solidarity,, 0044 7719166731, Iran SolidarityBlog.

Maria Rohaly, Mission Free Iran,