Iran May Back Off Stoning Woman to Death

In Time For UN's End Violence Against Women Day: Head of Iran’s human rights council says Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani might not be stoned to death..

Contact Editor
Elad Benari, | updated: 09:12

Sakineh Ashtiani
Sakineh Ashtiani
Amnesty International

Iran may spare a woman who was sentenced to death by stoning, the head of the Islamic Republic’s human rights council said earlier this week.

43-year-old Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani was convicted four years ago of adultery and of being an accomplice in the murder of her husband. The plan to execute her by stoning earned international condemnation by the United States, the European Union, international human rights groups, and Britain. British Foreign Secretary William Hague called the sentence “medieval,” and said it would “disgust and appall” the world if carried out. Individual public figures, including former politicians, actors, and a Nobel peace laureate, called for a stay of execution as well.

Following the international outcry, the stoning was put on hold several times. She also received several lashings. In July, Iran said it would reconsider the stoning sentence for what Malek Ajdar Sharifi, head of the judiciary in East Azerbaijan province, called “humanitarian reservations.” In August, Iran claimed there was no final decision in the case and that it was still “under review.”

The stoning was later scheduled for November 3 but was once again delayed, likely due to the international campaign in favor of Ashtiani.

If the latest reports are indeed correct, then Ashtiani will not be stoned to death at all. According to the head of the Iran human rights council, Mohammad Javad Larijani: “Iran's Council of Human Rights has helped a lot to reduce her sentence and we think there is a good chance that her life could be saved.”

Larijani spoke to the English-language Press TV on Monday. During the interview he also criticized international media for their “double standard,” an example of which, according to Larijani, is the media focusing on the Iranian judicial system and not mentioning cases such as the U.S. woman who was executed in September after being convicted of arranging for the killings of her husband and stepson.

Larijani said: “Nothing is said about the American woman, but there are lots of criticism regarding our judicial system.” He added that this shows “how biased, unrealistic and hypocritical and malicious” the media hype about Iran is.

By resolution 54/134 of 17 December 1999, the General Assembly designated 25 November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and invited governments, international organizations and NGOs to organize activities designated to raise public awareness of the problem on that day. Women's activists have marked 25 November as a day against violence since 1981. This date came from the brutal assassination in 1960, of the three Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic, on orders of Dominican ruler Rafael Trujillo (1930-1961).