New Documents from Tabriz and Tehran Courts on Sakineh Ashtaiani’s Case

PR No. 37, August 7, 2010

Also following: Open Letter by Houtan Kia, one of Sakineh’s Lawyers, to Human Rights Authorities

It was three ago that I was acquainted with Sakineh Ashtian’s case, and the likelihood of her stoning sentence being carried out, through her children’s telephone call to me at International Committee Against Stoning (ICAS). Sakineh had then been sentenced to stoning by the Province Court of Tabriz (capital city of Eastern Azerbaijan) for ‘adultery’. The sentence had subsequently been confirmed by the Supreme Court in Tehran. At this point her children had decided to resort to ICAS, determined to save their mother’s life.

The ICAS took prompt action, informing the public about the situation through a series of Statements, as well as organizing several practical measures.

On July 6, 2010, when all legal ways and efforts had been exhausted, and Sakineh’s letters of appeal for clemency to the authorities of the Islamist regime, including Khamenei himself, had fallen on deaf ears, her children wrote a letter addressed to the world to save their mother. It was immediately released by ICAS, first in the original Farsi and the day after in English, based on which it was later translated by the people around the world into 17 languages.

As a result of the international furor against her conviction during the past month, Sakineh’s fate has turned into the subject of deep concern and proactive protest of millions of people around the world. Also, their eyes have turned towards the prisons of the Islamist regime, its barbaric judicial philosophy, process of interpretation and application of its laws, and its procedural law. Further, Sakineh’s fate and the international campaign to save her life have provided the people of the world with a vintage point from which to see the true nature of a whole system of sexual apartheid built up by a regime of terrorist, misogynistic murderers.

Now, under powerful international pressure, the regime has resorted to trumping up charges against Sakineh, accusing her of murdering her husband. But the truth is that, according to the documents of the regime’s own courts, it is evident that there is no charge of murder in this case! ‘Brach 12 of Tabriz Province Court… has no records of having ever charged Sakineh with murder’, writes Sakineh’s lawyer, Houtan Kian (see below his letter). The regime is lying simply to make Sakineh appear a murderer in the eyes of the world in an effort to lessen the challenging global pressure it is confronted with.

We publicized the documents we had in our possession at a press conference in London on June 30th. We are now in receipt of other documents that show more clearly than ever that the regime is trumping up the murder charge and that its intention to execute her is utterly political. We shall soon make these documents public too. Meanwhile, in order to prepare to frustrate the regime’s savage habit of churning out charges against people, especially women, we requested Houtan Kian to expound on the matter. In reply to our request he wrote an open letter – mailed to, and immediately released by us – to human rights authorities and organizations worlswide. In his letter Houtan Kian has elaborated on the general layout of the case. The complete translation of the letter is attached to the end of this PR.

The substance of Houtan Kian’s open letter is as follows:

Cases involving sex out of wedlock (SOW) and those involving murder are tried at, and/or confirmed by, two different divisions (branches) of criminal-law courts in Iran. Murder is tried by Division 12 of the Province Court and SOW at Division 6. If a case involves both, it is also tried at Div. 12. Sakineh Ashtiaani’s case was tried at Div. 6, and the case involving her husband’s murder at Div. 12. If she had been charged on both accounts, she would have been tried at Div. 12. But, according to Houtan Kian, Div. 12 of Tabriz Province Court has no records of having charged Sakineh Ashtiaani with murder. At Div. 12, where the case of the murder of Ebrahim Ghaderzaadeh (Ashtiaani’s husband) was tried, a certain Isa T. confessed to the murder and was, accordingly, sentenced to death. But he was not executed, for Sakineh’s children, now in a position to determine whether the blood of the person who shed their father’s blood should be shed – according to the Islamic tribal law of ‘a tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye’ – forgave the killer , and he was freed a short while after. Sakine, on the other hand, was convicted of adultery. But not for ‘adultery of a married woman’ (zenna-e-mohseneh) as the Islamic Sharia Law distinguishes the two, and punishes only the latter by stoning. For her SOW conviction Sakineh received a sentence of 99 lashes and 10 years’ imprisonment – for ‘disturbing the social peace’ (!) – by Div.6 at Tabriz Province Court. Thus both cases were officially declared ‘closed’. Sakineh’s sentence was confirmed by the Supreme Court in Tehran, and subsequently carried out.

However, for some peculiar, unknown reason, or as Sajjad, Sakineh’s son’s, writes in his letter, ‘but I do not know what happened, and’ the same Div. 6 of the Province Court in Tabriz reopened the case ‘in relation to the murder case’ (Mohammad Mostafai, the other Sakineh’s lawyer, in his public statement of 26 June, 2010). Yet, as Mostafai continues, ‘The judges of Div. 6 this time brought the charge of zenna-e-mohseneh against my client, convicted and sentenced her to stoning without producing clear reasons proving her guilt according to Article 83 and the following articles of the Islamic Code of Punishment…and only on the basis of the knowledge of the judge (my underline). This occurred despite the following circumstance…: 1- trying Sakineh for the second time, while the previous conviction has not been rescinded, [i.e. trying her twice for the same charge] was, and is, devoid of any legal value; 2- Two judges of Div. 6 of the Province Criminal Court …were convinced of Sakineh’s innocence and clearly stated in their verdict that “there are neither any doctrinal nor any legal reasons positively proving zenna-e-mohseneh in the case of the accused. Nor are the existing evidence and signs in this case among the common ways of achieving knowledge.”’ The stoning sentence was also confirmed by the Supreme Court in Tehran. That was the point at which Sakineh’s children, Sajjad and Faride, contacted ICAS three years ago by the telephone. Thus for four years Sakineh has been living with the horror of being stoned to death for a totally baseless conviction issued illegally even according to the tribal Islamic judicial system and its savage, misogynistic code of punishment of the regime itself.

Now, under the recent international pressure to save and free Sakineh, the regime has been pushed back one step from the position of wanting to stone her to the position of intending to execute her by hanging for the charge of murdering her husband. This is what Nowbakht, the Deputy Prosecutor of Tabriz, demanded in his indictment of mid-July 2010. However, ‘Mostafai has issued a statement saying that Sakineh has been acquitted of murdering her husband, and the execution by hanging has not been mentioned in her final official sentence’ (The Guardian, Thursday, 22 July 2010). This indictment is presently under consideration by the Supreme Court in Tehran. The regime officially announced on July 20th that a final verdict in Sakineh Ashtiaani’s case would be handed down ‘in 21 days’, that is, on August 12th.

As can be seen easily in the mirror of Sakineh’s case, the crux of the matter is that the so-called courts of the Islamist regime in Iran are light years removed from the most basic principles and standards of humanity, impartiality and independence. The truth is that the regime’s judiciary system is, above all, a horrifying apparatus in the hands of the state for the purpose of producing rubber-stamped verdicts fitting the day-to-day political, terroristic needs of the latter. That is why instigation, creating all sorts of political atmospheres, and the use of torture for extraction of confessions are part and parcel of this so-called judicial system. But, again, what else can one expect from a regime of sheer terror using all the fitting means of instilling terror – everything from stoning, amputation of limbs and torture to flogging men and women for their hair and dressing style to levying heavy fines in the case of women for having nail polish or putting their sunglasses up on their foreheads or tucking their pants into their boots? Not only this nightmarish, tribal, misogynistic judicial system but also this whole regime of terror must be wiped from the face of the Iranian society and, indeed, as an international menace, from the face of the world.

We must save Sakineh from the ruling murderous regime in Iran. Only the united civilized humanity can do it. And there is only way to do it: intensifying the current international pressure on the regime through stronger protests.

Mina Ahadi
Spokesperson
International Campaign Against Stoning (http://stopstonningnow.com) and
International campaign Against Execution (http://stopstonningnow.com)
Tel: 0049 (0) 1775692413

Attachment (Not translated by ICAS):
Houtan Kian’s Open Letter:
Respectable authorities defending human rights

Ahuraian greetings.

At the outset, I must explain that all the cases I (Houtan Kian-Senior Attorney at Law) handle, since the day I started my profession as an attorney, given my area of specialty on crimes such as murder, adultery, homosexuality, political, illicit drugs, …meaning crimes in which according to the laws of the Islamic Republic are punishable by execution in various forms. I have represented my client, Ms. Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, since 1387 (Note last year)

The cases involve murder and adultery which are two different things based on which court handles each, assuming my client was also involved in the murder case.

If murder was proven, my client would have been executed and there would have been no need to stone her to death (Note the punishment for adultery under Islamic Penal Code). Based on Islamic Penal Code, the punishments for murder and adultery should have been combined in one case and sentence and handled by Brach 12 of the Tabriz Province Court. Whereas this was not the case. The branch has no records of sentencing my client to murder

Regarding the accusation of murder in the same branch regarding Mr. x who has been convicted of murder and proven that he committed murder. He admitted to murder in the branch. Later when the deceased Ebrahim Ghaderzadeh’s (Ashtiani’s husband) family was interviewed as to whether they sought retribution for the crime committed by Mr. x (murder), the family agreed unanimously to forego his blood and the convict is now freed as a result. The incident regarding Mr. Ghaderzadeh’s death happened in a bath as a result of electrocution. The convict admitted in the branch that he administered the electrifying of Mr. Ghaderzadeh himself with his own hands three times and each time the deceased received electrical shock.

The conviction of Ms. Sakineh Ashtiani in Branch 6 of the East Azerbaijan Province Court for adultery was wrong in the process by which it was handled. It completely violated the spirit of the laws of the Islamic Republic. It was only in the Supreme Court that the case was endorsed on the basis of Islamic Sharia law. That is wrong in every way. In my defense of the case before the Supreme Court of the country, I say the same thing. Now although the application of stoning has been temporarily halted, the case remains open for handling and application of stoning in Tabriz province.

The current process of the case, based on my request for due process, has now been sent by the respected judge of the Supreme Court to Ms. Farshchi for due process application and for review. Based on her order, it is registered in the computer by the number of —-, dated —and has circulated in the secretariat of the Supreme Court and sent to branch 9 of the Supreme Court on date of —-under the registration number —-.There it is about to be examined. Meanwhile, based on evidence of the case that is now on file with registration number —-, an implementation remains in order in the Tabriz Court regrettably through Mr. Hossein Nobakht, the assistant to the prosecutor of Tabriz on implementation of case affairs. And as such cases are handled, the request to change Ms. Ashtiani’s stoning to execution has been made by the head of the judiciary of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Chief Prosecutor of the country.

August 28 100 cities against Stoning

The International campaign to save Sakineh Ashtiaani from stoning has brought this savage, criminal punishment to the attention of the world. Today Sakineh’s name is familiar to millions of people. Hundreds of thousands have expressed their abhorrence of stoning through, among other things, signing petitions and taking part in protest actions worldwide. This millions strong movement must be organized. It must take its protest to the streets!

To that end we call on citizens of the world to mark August 28, 2010 the day of protest action by 100 CITIES OF THE WORLD AGAINST STONING. We call on you, civilized people of the world, to actively show your vehement opposition to stoning as a pre-medieval form of savagery. Organize, or participate in, protest rallies everywhere. Condemn the Islamist regime in Iran as the cruelest regime of its kind that stones people to death. It has, during the 31 years of its existence, stoned at least 109 people, predominantly women, and currently has 25 more people sit on stoning death row. These barbaric, serial killings must be stopped!

We call especially on all anti-stoning campaigners, as well as all groups and organizations particularly involved in the on-going international campaign to save Sakineh, to actively mobilize, with everything in their power, for a strong 100 CITIES OF THE WORLD AGAINST STONING action. We request you all to contact us through our website addresses below in order to coordinate your efforts and organize more effectively. We shall soon announce the list of names of the cities willing and prepared to organize an action.

Further, we request all trade unions and other workers’ organization, women’s organizations, Amnesty International and all progressive organizations to join us in this campaign aimed at forcing back the Islamist regime. Please forward this callout to your membership and mobilize them for a forceful, global 100 CITIES OF THE WORLD AGAINST STONING.

We call on all local councils, city governments and MPs around the world to actively join this global, citizens’ campaign, issue statements and pass resolutions condemning the barbaric regime of stoning in Iran.

We request the world media to help us in disseminating the news of the advance of 100 CITIES OF THE WORLD AGAINST STONING campaign.

We also call on all Iranian individulas living abroad, all Iranian opposition organizations, and all the Farsi language media to consider 100 CITIES OF THE WORLD AGAINST STONING their own protest action against the regime of stoning in Iran. We request them to add to its force as well as expanse through contributing their creative ideas.

International Committee Against Stoning
Iran Solidarity
Mission Free Iran
International Committee Against Execution

End worker persecutions in Iran! All jailed workers must be released!

Arbitrary arrests and detentions, long prison terms, violent interrogations, beatings, even use of lashing to degrade and break down, denial of medical care to sick detainees, constant harassment in the form of court summons, heavy bails and daily threats against workers and their families, and the ultimate weapon of cutting workers off their livelihood by firing them, make up a brutal regime of systematic persecution of labour activists in Iran.

We, the undersigned, demand that persecution of workers in Iran and terror and violence against them must stop. Workers in Iran should be able to freely exercise their fundamental right to set up their own organisations, meet, assemble and protest as they wish, take strike action, organise and take part in rallies without fear of being arrested and thrown in jail.

At the moment, Mansoor Ossanlou, Ebrahim Madadi and Reza Shahabi, of the Union of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, Ghorban Ahmadi, Ali Akbar Baghani, Hossein Bastani Nejad, Mahmoud Beheshti Langroodi, Rasoul Bodaghi, Mohammad Davari, Alireza Hashemi, Seyyed Hashem Khastar and Abdollah Momeni, of the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association, and two other labour activists by the names of Behnam Ebrahimzadeh and Mehdi Farrahi Shandiz continue to be imprisoned in Iran. Another jailed teacher, Mr Abdolreza Ghanbari, has been sentenced to death for taking part in the anti-government demonstrations of 27 December 2009.

We demand

• The immediate and unconditional release of all jailed labour activists in Iran
• The reinstatement, with all lost pay backdated, of all those dismissed for carrying out legitimate union activity
• An end to persecution and terrorisation of workers in Iran

SIGN THE PETITION HERE.

Iranian judges defy their Supreme Court to hang teen

Here’s an email from Peter Tatchell:

URGENT ACTION:
At the end of this article, see the action you can take to help save Ebrahim

Must a man hang because he is accused of being gay?

By Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner

Evening Standard – London – 6 August 2010

Eighteen year old Ebrahim Hamidi has been sentenced to death by a court in the Iranian city of Tabriz, on charges that he sexually assaulted another man. His accuser has since withdrawn the assault claim in a sworn affidavit, admitting that he lied under parental pressure. But Ebrahim is still scheduled to hang.

Two years ago, the alleged sex attack victim was caught by Ebrahim damaging his father’s crops. There had been a history of feuding between their families. A fist fight ensued, involving Ebrahim and some friends. During the fracas, the accuser’s trousers slipped down 20cm, which he claimed was evidence of a sexual assault.

Two hours later, Ebrahim and three friends were arrested on sodomy charges and tortured in a detention centre for three days. Ebrahim was hanged upside down by his legs and badly beaten. To stop this abuse, he signed a confession.

There is no evidence that Ebrahim is gay or that a sexual assault took place; just the word of one person against another and a confession under torture, which was later retracted.

At his first trial in 2008, Ebrahim was sentenced to hang on the the basis of the “knowledge of the judge” – a bizarre legal protocol whereby, in the absence of sufficient evidence to convict in sodomy and adultery cases, a judge is free to assess that a person is guilty.

Ebrahim’s death sentence is in defiance of the Supreme Court of Iran, which has twice rejected the local court’s guilty verdict and ordered a re-examination of the case, citing errors in the legal investigation and an “issue of doubt.” These two Supreme Court rulings against conviction and execution have been ignored by the judiciary in Tabriz.

At the third and most recent trial in June, Ebrahim’s three co-defendants were acquitted. He was not. Two of the five Tabriz judges cleared him of all charges but the other three upheld his execution order.

Soon afterwards, a third appeal was submitted to the Supreme Court. Alas, at this crucial stage in his appeal, Ebrahim suddenly has no legal representation, which puts him in great peril. His lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaei, was forced into hiding after a warrant was issued for his arrest. He has since fled Iran, fearing that the government was planning to jail him over his highly publicised efforts to stop the stoning to death of a 43 year old woman, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, on charges of adultery. She, too, was sentenced by a Tabriz court.

Without a lawyer, Ebrahim cannot further challenge the death sentence. If the Supreme Court this time confirms his execution, he could be hanged in a matter of days. Hanging in Iran is not by the trapdoor drop method, which breaks a person’s neck swiftly. It is by sadistic strangulation. The noosed victim is hoisted by a crane, which causes them to writhe and convulse. They die a slow, painful death from asphyxiation.

Ebrahim’s case highlights the flaws and injustices of the Iranian legal system. It is further evidence that innocent people are sentenced on false charges of homosexuality, often after torture.

To avoid the hangman’s noose, Ebrahim’s best hope is to persuade the Chief Justice of Iran, Sadeq Larijani, to veto his hanging. I have written to the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, urging him to press the Chief Justice to halt Ebrahim’s execution, annul the death sentence and order a re-trial. I hope MPs, and the public, will lobby the Iranian Ambassador, to save both Ebrahim and Sakineh.

What you can do to help save Ebrahim

Write a polite letter of protest to the head of the judiciary and to the supreme leader of Iran, urging Ebrahim’s release:

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: [email protected] or via the official website: http://www.dadiran.ir/tabid/75/Default.aspx
First starred box: your first name; Second starred box: your family name; Third starred box: your email address

Supreme Leader of Iran
Sayed Ali Khamenei
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street – Shahid Keshvar Doust Street
Tehran, Iran
Email: via the official website: http://www.leader.ir/langs/en/index.php?p=letter (English)
http://www.leader.ir/langs/fa/index.php?p=letter (Persian)

Thank you, Peter Tatchell

Mohammad Mostafaei’s wife, Fereshteh Halimi has been released from prison

Press Release No 38

On Saturday, 7 August, Fereshteh Halimi was released from Evin prison in Tehran. Ms Halimi is the wife of Sakine Ashtiani’s lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaei. She was arrested together with her brother by the Iranian authorities and held hostage as the authorities wanted Mr Mostafaei to turn himself in. Ms Halimi’s father had also been arrested. We congratulate Ms Halimi and her family on their release from prison. Ms Halimi’s brother and father had been released early last week.

According to our latest information Mr Mostafaei is now in Norway.

ICAS and ICAE want to thank the Norwegian government for its prompt intervention in the case and for giving refuge to Mr Mostafaei. These developments are positive steps in the case to save Sakine. We hope that we can continue to widen our campaign on an international level, that we can free Sakine soon and that we can push back the Islamic regime of Iran.

International Committee against Stoning (ICAS)
International Committee against Execution (ICAE)

8 August 2010

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1. Contact: Mina Ahadi, Email: [email protected], Tel: 0049 (0) 1775692413
http://notonemoreexecution.org http://stopstonningnow.com/wpress/

Iran stoning case at imminent risk of execution

Iran stoning case, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani is at imminent risk of execution in Tabriz prison.

Moreover, her well known human rights lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaei, is in prison in Turkey after having fled the country to evade arrest for his advocacy work. His wife remains in prison in Iran – held hostage – until he is remanded into the regime’s custody. Given Turkey’s close relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mostafaei can face deportation back to Iran even though he has applied for refugee status with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees there.

Campaigners are concerned about the safety of Mostafaei and his wife. We are also extremely concerned for Ashtiani’s life. The regime may be preparing to execute her within the next few days, particularly given that the Tabriz prosecutor has demanded her execution and is awaiting the Tehran high court’s confirmation.

In her most recent heart-wrenching message, she says:

“I am now quiet and sad because a part of my heart is frozen.

The day I was flogged in front of [my son] Sajjad, I was crushed and my dignity and heart were broken.

The day I was given the stoning sentence, it was as if I fell into a deep hole and I lost consciousness.

Many nights, before sleeping, I think to myself how can anybody be prepared to throw stones at me; to aim at my face and hands? Why?

I thank all of you from Tabriz Prison.

Mrs [Mina] Ahadi, tell everyone that I’m afraid of dying. Help me stay alive and hug my children.”

As a result the public outcry, Brazilian president Lula da Silva has offered Ashtiani asylum there. Ashtiani has accepted the offer. The regime, however, has rejected it and continues to push for her execution and to disseminate misinformation on her case. It says it intends not to stone her but to execute her for murdering her husband. At the 30 July press conference in London, Mina Ahadi exposed the regime’s misinformation on the case and revealed court documents showing Ashtiani’s sentence of death by stoning for adultery. [In fact, she was acquitted of any murder charges; even those found guilty of murdering her husband have not been executed at the request of the victim’s family.]

At the 30 July press conference, Maryam Namazie also refuted claims made by the embassy of the Islamic regime of Iran in London and the former French ambassador to Iran that stonings in Iran were rare; she referred to a new report published by the International Committee against Executions which has found that over 100 people have been stoned with 25 known cases currently awaiting death by stoning in Iran. Other speakers at the press conference AC Grayling spoke of the contradiction between a medieval government and a progressive population wanting to be free whilst Peter Tatchell stressed the importance of supporting Sakineh and all those languishing on death row.

Given the imminent risk of execution faced by Ashtiani and the insecure status of her lawyer in Turkey we urge the public to act now.

Ashtiani’s stoning and execution orders must be rescinded, she must be immediately released and there must be an end to stoning and executions.

PLEASE ACT NOW!

1- Send Sakineh a postcard of the city you live in or are visiting this summer 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

2- Write letters of protest to the Islamic regime of Iran demanding Ashtiani’s release and an end to stonings 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

Sayed Ali Khamenei
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street – Shahid Keshvar Doust Street
Tehran, Iran
Via website (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
Email

3- Sign petitions in support of her case if you haven’t already done so. Here are two of them: ICAS, Avaaz.

4- Write to government officials, heads of state, MEPs and MPs in your country of residence 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. See Mina Ahadi’s recent letter to heads of states on this.

5- Write to the Turkish government asking them to release Mohammad Mostafaei and to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Turkey urging them to grant him refugee status and expedite his resettlement to a safe third country.

Prime Minister
Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Basbakanlik
06573 Ankara, Turkey
Fax: +90-312-417 0476

Minister of Interior
Icisleri Bakanligi
06644 Ankara
Fax: +90 312 417 23 90

Minister of Foreign Affairs
Disisleri Bakanligi
06100 Ankara
Fax: +90 312 419 1547
Email

UNHCR – Branch Office in Turkey
Tiflis Cad. 552. Sok. No: 3
Sancak Mah. 06550 Ankara
Turkey
Fax: +90 312 441 21 73
Via website

6- 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.

NOTES:

* See footage of 30 July press conference in London here. Also see press coverage here.

* See clip of Islamic Republic’s state TV’s misinformation on the 24 July International Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani Day protests we organised and Ashtiani’s case. The regime blurs out her face, uses only her initials and says she was sentenced to execution for brutally murdering her husband. A translation of the court document sentencing her to death by stoning for adultery is available here which refutes their statements on her case.

* See a report of the successful 24 July International Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani Day and press coverage here.

* For more information contact:
Mina Ahadi, Germany, International Committee Against Stoning and International Committee Against Executions Coordinator, Email, 0049 1775692413.

Maryam Namazie, UK, Iran Solidarity Spokesperson, Email, 0044 7719166731, Iran Solidarity website and blog.

Sakine Ashtiani accepts Brazilian President’s offer of asylum

Press Release No 36

Ms Ashtiani today said that she is grateful for the offer made by the Brazilian president Lula da Silva and that she accepts his offer. She has also come under a lot of pressure by the prison authorities who keep questioning her about her alleged contacts with the media and outside individuals.

International Committee against Stoning
International Committee against Execution
5 August 2010

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1. Contact: Mina Ahadi, Email: [email protected], Tel: 0049 (0) 1775692413
http://notonemoreexecution.org http://stopstonningnow.com/wpress/

Refuse to recognize a regime of stoning!

OPEN LETTER FROM MINA AHADI TO HEADS OF STATES

The international struggle to save Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani from being stoned to death brought but one example of the crimes of the Islamic regime in Iran to the attention of people around the world. However, despite the international outcry, the regime still seeks to execute Sakineh. This is an entirely political move aimed at intimidating the people of Iran as well as disregarding the international pressure in this regard.

According to conservative, documented statistics in our possession, the Islamic Republic has so far stoned 109 people to death. In addition, there are currently 25 people awaiting death by stoning.

This regime has a 31-year track record of crime, riddled with such atrocities as the execution of thousands of people, the execution of youth and children, amputations, gouging of eyes, and a host of other barbaric and murderous crimes. The Islamic Republic of Iran holds the world record for execution proportional to the population. It is the only government in the world now that executes children and youth under 18 years of age. This government is not the representative of the people of Iran; it is their murderer. Its heads must be tried by international tribunals for genocide and crimes against humanity.

Under such dreadful circumstances, what the people of Iran and all civilized citizens of the world expect of you is to use everything in your power to exert pressure on the Islamic Republic to free Sakineh and abolish stoning as a mediaeval form of savagery. Last week President Desilva Lula of Brazil announced that his country will officially accept Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani and her family as refugees. This is certainly a positive act in the direction of saving Sakineh – one that I hope will be followed by similar acts on the part of other states.

The 21st-century world cannot and must not tolerate a regime that stones people to death. On behalf of the people of Iran I call on you to refuse to recognize the Islamic Republic of Iran. The real, feasible and civilized way for the world to be rid of the menace of the Islamic Republic is the overthrow of this barbaric, medieval regime by the power of the struggles of the people of Iran. So they expect you to support their legitimate, freedom-seeking struggles through refusing to recognize the Islamic regime as well as through its political boycott. A regime of stoning, torture, flogging, maiming, and execution is not worthy of recognition by any state or international body.

Mina Ahadi
Coordinator
International Committee Against Stoning and International Committee Against Execution
August 4, 2010
Email: [email protected]
Tel: 0049 (0) 1775692413
http://notonemoreexecution.org

http://stopstonningnow.com

Tabriz prosecution demands Ms Ashtiani’s execution – Tehran High Court considers

Press Release No 33

At today’s hearing regarding Ms Ashtiani’s case at Tehran’s High Court the chief of the 9th division, Davoudi, rejected a reopening of the trial and is instead considering Tabriz prosecutor Hossain Nobacht’s demand to execute Ms Ashtiani. Her case has now been transferred to the deputy prosecutor-general Saeed Mortazavi.

The High Court will confirm whether the execution of Ms Ashtiani can go ahead next week.

Sakine Ashtiani’s children and relatives are very concerned about this development. Hossain Nobacht had been speaking publicly about demanding Ms Ashtiani’s execution and waiting for confirmation from the Head of the Judiciary as long as ten days ago.

Mina Ahadi from ICAS says: ‘The Islamic regime has sent a political message.

Despite the many protests and international concern for Ms Ashtiani the Islamic regime continues their terror against people and especially women in Iran. Putting Ms Ashtiani’s future in the hands of Saeed Mortazavi is a very bad sign. They are preparing Ms Ashtiani’s execution. This is a very clear sign that ‘justice’ in Iran has nothing to do with being just but everything to do with being a political tool of oppression and self-preservation of the Islamic regime.’

A confirmation of the execution order for Ms Ashtiani can mean that she might be executed very soon. ICAS calls on all human rights organisations, governments and individuals worldwide to continue putting pressure on the Islamic regime of Iran until Ms Ashtiani is freed.

International Committee against Stoning
International Committee against Execution
4 August 2010

————————————————————————————-
1. Contact: Mina Ahadi, Email: [email protected], Tel: 0049 (0) 1775692413
http://notonemoreexecution.org http://stopstonningnow.com/wpress/

2.A note about Saeed Mortazavi, deputy prosecutor-general of Iran. He has been accused of the torture and death in custody of Iranian-Canadian photographer Zahra Kazemi by the Canadian government. In a report in Iran in 2010 he was named as the man responsible for abuse of dozens and death of three political prisoners at Kahrizak detention centre in 2009. He has been called “torturer of Tehran” by some observers.

Sakine Ashtiani’s lawyer Mr Mostafaei arrested in Turkey

Press Release No 32

According to the Turkish newspaper ‘Radikal’ Mr Mostafaei was arrested in Turkey yesterday, Tuesday 3 August, and is currently in detention. Mr Mostafaei was at Istanbul airport when he was arrested as there were allegedly issues with his passport. Several European countries have already spoken to the Turkish authorities and expressed their concern for Mr Mostafaei’s safety.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has confirmed that Mr Mostafaei is in detention in Turkey and is in contact with him. The UNHCR also stated that Mr Mostafaei has applied for asylum in Turkey.

Mr Mostafaei has received numerous death threats and ICAS is very concerned for his safety and holds the Turkish authorities responsible for his safety and wellbeing.

ICAS has received information from Iran that the Islamic regime is trying to bring Mr Mostafaei into disrepute. The Islamic authorities claim to have found forged documents and banned substances in Mr Mostafaei’s office. The Iranian authorities are known to use this method in order to be able to increase the charges against someone.

ICAS has also received the news from Iran that Mr Mostafaei’s father-in-law and brother-in-law were released last night.

ICAS calls on all European governments to put pressure on the Turkish government to release Mr Mostafaei and to allow him to transfer to a safe country.

International Committee against Stoning (ICAS)
International Committee against Execution (ICAE)
4 August 2010
——————————————————————————-
Contact: Mina Ahadi
Email: [email protected]
Tel: 0049 (0) 1775692413
http://notonemoreexecution.org

http://stopstonningnow.com/wpress/

Iran to execute youth aged 18

Here is an email from Peter Tatchell:

False accusation of homosexual assault – Now withdrawn by accuser

Ebrahim Hamidi faces execution by hanging, despite no legal representation

His lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaei, forced into hiding by arrest warrant

Iran’s Supreme Court twice rejects guilty verdict and orders re-examination

Provincial court presses ahead with execution plan, defying Supreme Court

London – 4 August 2010

Gay Middle East and OutRage! are issuing an urgent appeal to save the life of 18 year old Iranian, Ebrahim Hamidi, who was sentenced to death on 21 June 2010 for a vague, unspecified sexual assault on a male. He is now awaiting hanging, despite his accuser admitting that he lied, and withdrawing his accusation of assault.

In addition, the Supreme Court of Iran has twice rejected the provincial court’s guilty verdict and death sentence and ordered a re-examination of the case. This ruling has been ignored by the local judiciary in East Azerbaijan province.

Ebrahim’s execution could take place at any time.

He now has no legal representation. His lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaei, has been forced into hiding after a warrant for his arrest was issued. The Iranian authorities are furious over over Mostafaei’s highly publicised efforts to stop the stoning to death of Sakineh Ashtiani on charges of adultery.

“There is no evidence that Hamidi is gay or that he committed any crime. This execution must be stopped. We need your help,” said Dan Littauer, editor of Gay Middle East.

“Ebrahim’s case shows the flaws and failings of the Iranian legal system. It is further evidence that innocent people are sentenced on false charges of homosexuality,” added Peter Tatchell of the London-based LGBTI human rights group OutRage!

“The claims of the Iranian authorities cannot be trusted. Our best hope is to persuade the Chief Justice of Iran, Sadeq Larijani, to veto Ebrahim’s execution.

“Wherever you live, get your MP/Congressperson/Deputy and Foreign Minister to lobby the Iranian Chief Justice.

“An international campaign can help stop Ebrahim’s execution, just as a similar global campaign has, so far, halted the stoning to death of Sakineh Ashtiani.

If you live in the UK:

“We urge people to ask their MP and MEPs to lobby the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, and the Iranian Ambassador to London.

“Letters from MPs and MEPs will have maximum influence and impact. Please urge your MP and MEPs write letters of protest urgently.

“I call on William Hague and David Cameron to make representations to the Chief Justice of Iran to halt Hamidi’s execution, annul the death sentence and order a re-trial,” said Mr Tatchell.

To email your MP and MEP, go to this website:

www.writetothem.com

Include the briefing below in your email to your MP and MEP.

Thank you.

See Dan Littauer’s three articles and reports on the Hamidi case below:

Briefing

A youth is facing imminent execution in Iran based on a mere false accusation
By Dan Littauer, Editor, Gay Middle East, and Joshua Hunt, contributing journalist.

14 July 2010

You don’t even need to be gay or lesbian in Iran to be in mortal danger – a simple, unfounded accusation can be enough to see you sentenced to death. On the 8th of July 2010, the famous Iranian human rights lawyer, Mohammad Mostafai, announced in a press release that three of his four clients were cleared of sodomy charges, but one, an 18 year old youth named Ebrahim Hamidi, was sentenced to be executed.

Hamidi was originally sentenced to death two years ago, at the age of 16, for an alleged attempted sexual assault on a male. The execution sentence was handed down by Branch 2 of the Criminal Court in East Azerbaijan province on 20 July 2008.

Following a fight in the countryside outside the Iranian city of Tabriz, with members of a family against which his own family had been feuding for some time, Hamidi was picked up with three friends by the police. The four were told that one of the men from the other family with whom the four were fighting had accused them of an attempted sexual assault. The “testimony” the accuser gave to support this claim was that during the fight his own trousers were 20cm below his wiastline, implying that the four attempted to strip him naked and assault him.

The four accused were arrested based on this allegation and held in Haris Detention Centre for three days. During police interrogations they were tortured and pressured to confess to the crime.

Ebrahim Hamidi signed his confession sheet to stop his torture: he was hanged from his legs and badly beaten. According to his lawyer, and the three friends who witnessed the beatings, he confessed to a crime he did not commit. All four were tried in two consecutive provincial criminal courts and were sentenced to execution.

During their third trial, three of the accused were cleared of all charges but Ebrahim Hamidi was again sentenced to execution.

He was sentenced to die despite the fact that two of the five judges at the hearing on 21 June this year ruled that none of the four accused were guilty of the sexual assault allegations.

Even more astounding, the youth who originally accused the four men of sexual assault has since withdrawn his accusation. On 7 July 2010, he gave recorded testimony to the police that his accusation was false and was given under pressure from his parents. In other words, the accuser admitted that he was lying due to parental pressure.

On top of this, the guilty verdict and execution order was rejected twice by the Supreme Court of Iran – once by Branch 17 and once by Branch 42 – because of shortcomings in the judicial investigation. It ordered a re-examination of the case. Yet the provincial court still insists on executing Ebrahim.

In his report Mr. Mostafaei wrote: “I have asserted in the past that many of execution cases I took on were flawed to the point that an execution verdict couldn’t possibly be issued. This case too, is one of those cases where an innocent person is ordered to be executed.”

Gay Middle East (GME) has interviewed Saghi Ghahraman, CEO of the Canadian-based Iranian Queer Organization (IRQO) about this case. Ms. Ghahraman stated that: “execution is an inhumane and brutal punishment.” She added that this “specific case which is tied, for no reason, to homosexuality”, is completely without foundation and unjust. To Ghahraman, the harsh attitudes towards homosexuality are enough to have any person, whether straight or gay, put to death. This law is not only wrong in condemning to death innocent people but damages families and severely scars whole communities. Ghahraman is deeply alarmed by the execution order for Ebrahim Hamidi. She reiterates that Hamidi is not even “accused of homosexuality, but of sexual harassment based on a false accusation, without any evidence,” by a mere decision of a judge.

To GME this appears as a face saving measure of a flawed judicial procedure, which surely should be repealed by the judiciary of Iran. GME joined IRQO in requesting the judiciary of Iran to annul the verdict. Furthermore, a repeal of the sodomy laws, which are both inadequate and unjust, would benefit Iran as a whole and give it much esteem in the eyes of the international community.

IRQO has reported the case to the Iranian Committee for Human Rights Reporters and to the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.

GME has also referred this case to Amnesty International.

Mostafai’s statement: http://www.modafe.com/NewsDetail.aspx?Id=415

Committee for Human Rights Reporters: http://chrr.biz/spip.php?article10187

Mostafaei the lawyer of Hamidi disappears!
GME News Exclusive!

25 July 2010

According to the Committee of Human Rights Reporters, there is no news of Mohammad Mostafaei’s whereabouts since Saturday afternoon. Mostafaei is the revered Iranian human rights lawyer defending Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, sentenced to death by stoning for alleged adultery. He is also the defence lawyer for Ebrahim Hamidi, an 18 year old youth sentenced to death by hanging, for alleged homosexual assault. Both are believed to be trumped up charges.

Mostafaei’s disappearance follows the arrest of his wife along with her brother. They were detained last night at around 23h. According to Saghi Ghahraman, CEO of IRQO, Mostafaei was summoned to District 2 of Evin Prison’s Sacred Martyr and was interrogated on Saturday July 24. It seems the authorities wanted to know how “blood money” is collected to pay for his young clients who were sentenced to execution. Mustafaei reported on his weblog: http://www.modafe.com/NewsDetail.aspx?Id=428

On Saturday July 24 2010, Mostafaei reported on his facebook page that he was summoned for more interrogation. “After being interrogated by District 2 they called me again and asked me to go and report myself. I’ll go there tomorrow (Sunday) and don’t know what’s going to happen,” he wrote. Apparently on the same day, Saturday, intelligence agents showed up in his office to arrest him, but they didn’t find him there. His wife and her brother were arrested around the block of his office space. There are many comments on his facebook page expressing worry about his mobile phone being switched off and him not being in the office.

According to the Committee of Human Rights Reporters, later on Saturday evening, security agents went to Mostafaei’s office with an arrest warrant issued for him, but he was apparently not there. Saghi Ghahraman stated that this development might affect the cases of both clients (Ashtiani and Hamidi) badly, and may result in the carrying out of execution sentences without a fair retrial, the defendants having been deprived of their defence lawyer. Saghi also called for “trials, transparent court sessions and delivering justice without capital punishment.” She also expressed “that the lawyer and his clients need the international community’s support and urgent attention.”

Latest Update (Unpublished)
By Dan Littauer, Editor of GME and Saghi Ghahraman, CEO of IRQO

During the last week, important changes took place in the initial situation we were dealing with. Mohammad Mostafaei, the lawyer, is in hiding, some of his family are in jail, and he is under pressure by the judicial system to hand himself to the police if he wants his family out of jail.

This situation not only is harmful for him, it also leaves his clients, Ebrahim Hamidi and Sakineh Ashtiani, without a legal representative to try and save them from execution.

At this point, Sakineh Ashtiani has a huge media and international support, and it is unlikely the regime will hang her (at least not for the moment). But Ebrahim has no support whatsoever.

Ebrahim, as you might know from Mostafaei’s letter and GME’s reports, was not at fault, and the plaintiff himself has admitted he lied in accusing him. The last time we heard from Mostafaei was two days before his family’s arrest and him going missing. He wrote on facebook in response to Saghi’s note to him, that he was working on Ebrahim’s case. He also told a friend of Saghi, who is a campaigner against stoning executions, that Ebrahim’s case was already sent to the Supreme Court.

At this point, if the Supreme Court decides to eventually accept the execution order for Ebrahim, the sentence could be carried out in a few days, and there won’t be a way to overturn that decision unless the Chief of the Judiciary himself overturns the verdict.

Saghi contacted some of the lawyers working with Mostafaei and enquired about Ebrahim’s case. She was told that so far, in Mostafaei’s absence, they don’t know whether anyone else is representing him. Saghi has requested a few lawyers in Iran, whom she knows, to see whether they could take his case. As of now, none has.

We were advised by lawyer to organise campaigns for Ebrahim, and to stress to the Iranian government that we want him to have a new and fair trial, or for his case to be dismissed and for him to be released from prison.

More information:

Dan Littauer: 075 75 45 96 33

Peter Tatchell: 0207 403 1790

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Brazilian offer rejected by Islamic regime of Iran

Press Release No 31

Mehman Parast, spokesperson of the foreign ministry in Tehran, today rejected the offer made by the Brazilian president Lula da Silva to give asylum to Sakine Ashtiani and her children.

Ms Ashtiani had been given the news of the offer by her son Sajad yesterday and was very happy about it.

ICAS hopes that Lula da Silva and other heads of governments will continue their efforts to free Sakine Ashtiani.

The campaign to save Sakine continues and we will put pressure on the Islamic regime until she is freed.

International Committee against Stoning (ICAS)
International Committee against Execution (ICAE)

3 August 2010
http://notonemoreexecution.org

http://stopstonningnow.com

A regime of stoning should not be recognised

Open letter to the Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva

Dear President Lula da Silva

Your offer to grant Sakine Ashtiani, who has been sentenced to death for sex outside of marriage, asylum in Brazil is an important step in saving her and her children. I hope that with the many actions and international efforts that millions of people are doing right now we can save Sakine and that she and her children can embrace each other once again soon.

Now that I am writing this letter I see before me the face of Maryam Ayoubi who was stoned to death in 2001. I see the face of Shahnaz, Shahla, Kobra and dozens of other women who were buried up to their chest and were killed by the stones thrown at them. All of this I still see before my eyes. The voices of the children who called me to say: ‘Our mother was stoned to death’ – I still hear them. That is the Islamic regime. The rulers in Iran couldn’t survive one day without executions, terror and spreading fear. Even though the Islamic regime has receded a little due to the pressure of the campaign to save Sakine, it tries to continue spreading fear in society by executing other prisoners, especially political prisoners.

Today, 2 August, nine prisoners were sentenced to death in Kerman. Also, the prosecution in Tehran has sentenced six political prisoners to death, among them Jafar Kazemi who can be executed at any moment. Zeynab Jalalian, another political prisoner is also in imminent danger of being executed. There are more people on the execution list: Mohammad Reza Haddadi was sentenced to death as a minor and can now, having turned 18, be executed at any moment. There are more than 130 minors in prison who have been sentenced to death. The Islamic regime is the only regime in the world that executes minors.

President Lula da Silva, today there are 17 families of political prisoners on hunger strike in front of Evin prison in Tehran in solidarity with the hunger strike that their children inside the prison started a few days ago. This is a protest against the brutality of the prison authorities towards the political prisoners. Also the fate of three young American mountain climbers and the tears of their mothers has saddened people. This regime has arrested the relatives of Mr Mostafaei, Sakine Ashtiani’s lawyer, and taken them as hostage until he turns himself in.

President Lula da Silva, Iran is a country with a brutal and criminal regime. It is a murderous regime that should be condemned by all people and governments. Allow me, as a representative of the oppressed people in Iran, to say that I not only want to save Sakine and abolish stoning, but that I also ask all heads of state not to recognise the Islamic regime as the representative of the Iranian people but to see it as the murderer of people in Iran.

This regime is a government of stoning and executions that puts people in prison every day and cuts off their hands and feet. This is a regime that executes more people per capita than any other government in the world. Such a regime should not be recognised by international organisations and heads of state.

Yours sincerely

Mina Ahadi
Spokesperson, International Committee against Execution, International Committee against Stoning
2 August 2010
Email: [email protected]
Tel: 0049 (0) 1775692413
http://notonemoreexecution.org

http://stopstonningnow.com/wpress

In and out for most of August

I will be in and out of the country for most of August 2010.

If you need a response to an email urgently, please contact: Anne Marie Waters for any questions regarding One Law for All and CEMB at [email protected] or Patty Debonitas for questions relating to Iran Solidarity and the Save Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani Campaign at [email protected]

If it isn’t urgent, I will respond as soon as possible.

Thanks.

Maryam

On Brazilian offer of asylum to Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani

Press Release no. 30
31 July 2010

Brazilian President Lula da Silva has called on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to accept an offer of asylum in Brazil for Iran stoning case Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani and her children.

The International Committee against Executions and the International Committee against Stoning welcome any new developments that can save her precious life and reunite her with her children. We reiterate our call, however, for an end to stoning and executions altogether.

Mina Ahadi
International Committee against Execution
International Committee against Stoning
Email: [email protected]
Tel: 0049 (0) 1775692413
http://notonemoreexecution.org

http://stopstonningnow.com/wpress/