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Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani

August 14, 2010

“The men who run Iran apparently have no shame at all, first pronouncing the barbaric sentence of death by stoning and then resorting to a televised confession. Under the circumstances, there is every reason to believe that this so-called confession was coerced.” – Nadya Khalife, Middle East women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani has found herself in the international spotlight but for all the wrong reasons. In 2006, she was convicted for committing adultery with two men after her husband was murdered. She was sentenced to death by stoning.

Her story gained international attention with many countries putting pressure on Iran to stop the execution. Iran eventually succumbed to the pressure and announced it would not stone her to death — at least for the time being. I guess all this attention didn’t bode well for the Iranian government, as it appears they are now out to make an example of Ms. Ashtiani.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported on how Ms. Ashtiani provided a confession on television for participating in “the murder of her husband.” Her lawyer believes that she was coerced into making the confession, while HRW described how Ms. Ashtiani’s “face was blurred and her words were voiced over with translations from her mother tongue, Azeri, into Farsi.”

During this entire ordeal, Ms. Ashtiani was sentenced to flogging and has received 99 lashes. Even though her conviction of stoning by death has been overturned, there is still grave concern that she will be hanged.

If there is to be any justice served, then the Iranian government will stop using Ms. Ashtani as a political puppet and release her immediately.

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