Friday, August 13, 2010
The Story of Sakineh Mohammedi Ashtiani
Ms Ashtiani has been detained since 2006 in East Azerbaijan.In May of that year she was sentenced to 99 lashes for illicit relationships with two men following the death of her husband.. In September of 2006 the case was re-opened during the trial of the of the man accused of murdering her husband. It was claimed she had committed the more sever crime of adultery with the accused and was sentenced to death by stoning. She denied the allegation.
Needless to say the conviction caused an outcry all over the world as human rights groups rushed to condemn the decision of the court. Even international Governments weighed in on the debate with the Brazlian Government notably coming out against the ruling. It had been one of the nations defending Iran in the nuclear controversy speaking out against the sanctions and engaging with them to find a better solution to their diplomatic problems. However, it angered Iran by offering amnesty to Ms Ashtiani, a request which the Islamic Republic of course denied.
Concerns for Ms Ashtiani's safety in the immediate future have heightened after she appeared on Iranian TV stating she was aware of her husbands cousin's plan to kill her husband and was an accessory to the killing, while at the same time having an affair with her husbands murderer. She also stated she would sue her lawyer for bringing attention to her case and embarassing her.
However it appears that the international media has its doubts that the confession was legitimate with her lawyer stating that it was most likely made after being tortured by Iranian officials. Some sectors even claimed the woman speaking was an actress. Indeed it has yet to be independently verified that the woman speaking was Ms Ashtiani. Numerous convicted criminals in Iran have been forced to make a confession through torture and coercion, later speaking out about their ordeals.
The international pressure however has not gone unheard in Iran. A 25 year old woman convicted of adultery lost her baby in prison after being beaten up in prison. Her sentence has been changed to hanging after condemnation of the cruel form of execution from outside. Another young woman aged 19 was imprisoned at 15 after her husband claimed she had an extra-marital affair. Her original sentence was to be execute but this has now been reduced to 100 lashes.
The case of Ms Ashtiani, a 43 mother of two, has captured a great deal of media attention for the plight of many women convicted under the harshest moral issues dealt with in Shariah law. It raises the question of how involved we as a worldwide community of people should be involved in the laws of individual nations. Clearly the possible execution of anyone for adultery is abhorrent to most people in the West does that give us the right to condemn others for their beliefs? Personally I believe it is important that Iran is allowed to decide for itself freely and democratically but I do fully support the work of human rights groups.
What is your opinion? Leave a comment below.