Sunday, July 11, 2010

Story of Two Women: Two Death Sentences in Iran

Human Rights Now
July 9, 2010

This past week Amnesty International and other human rights organizations have been highlighting the plight of two women sentenced to death in Iran. Both of them have suffered incredible injustices, but their stories are actually very different and while one of them has received a great deal of publicity, the other has failed to attract the attention that her case deserves.

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a mother of two, was convicted of “adultery while being married” and was sentenced to be executed by stoning. Her story received an avalanche of coverage in the international media—much of which detailed the gruesome particulars of death by stoning. Following a world-wide outcry that included human rights activists as well as Hollywood celebrities and high officials such as the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, the Iranian Embassy in London announced on July 8 that Ms Ashtiani would in fact not be stoned, although her ultimate fate is still unclear. The welcome announcement that the stoning will not be carried out demonstrates the effectiveness and the importance of vigorously protesting Iran’s human rights violations; despite some claims to the contrary, the Iranian government is not immune to international pressure and world opinion. The apparent concession is however indicative of where the Iranian authorities’ true priorities lie.