The Statement of the protest action of September 18, 2010 against the Regime of Flogging and Stoning

Today’s international actions are a continuation of the international actions of July 24th and August 28, 2010. They are yet another reflection of the solidarity of people around the world with the people of Iran, who have risen heroically to bring down the Islamic regime of stoning and qesas and hijab and torture and execution. Today, once again, we declare that this regime is the murderer of Iranian people and the shame of humanity. It must be replaced by a humane government.

Flogging and stoning and execution and imprisonment and torture are political tools of this government, used to terrorize the society and suppress the rising wave of peoples’ protests. And today, people all over the world identify the Islamic Republic with this savagery. People around the world have very well realized that this is a religious, reactionary and misogynist government that has forcibly imposed a system of gender apartheid, reactionary sharia law and total denial of legal rights upon Iranian people.

Today, on the 18th of September 2010, as a continuation of the demands of the 100 Cities of the World protests on August 28, we declare our demands as follows:

1. We fully support the struggle of Iranian people against this savage, religious regime. We declare that the path to freedom for Iranian people is not through threats, military incursions, or economic sanctions, but rather is through the force of peoples’ struggle in Iran and all across the world to pull down the Islamic Republic.

2. Flogging, stoning, execution and torture should be abolished. We demand that the United Nations, in a special resolution, unequivocally forbids these kinds of punishments in all countries.

3. We demand that Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani and all of those who have been imprisoned on charges of extramarital sexual relationships or homosexuality, as well as all political prisoners, should be freed from the Islamic Republic’s prisons immediately.

4. We declare that the Islamic Regime of Stoning should not be recognized as the Iranian government. This regime should be expelled from all international organizations, and all political contacts with it should be severed. We declare that the leaders of the Islamic Republic should be prosecuted in international court on charges of 31 years of genocide, mass executions of tens of thousands of political prisoners, gender apartheid, imprisonment, torture, execution, rape, and Islamic sharia’s inhumane punishments, all of which are flagrant violations of all international conventions and agreements.

We, along with the Iranian people, will continue our struggle until we achieve our demands. As an urgent action we strongly demand that Ahmadinejad, the president of the Regime of Stoning, be banned from the United Nations’ General Assembly in September 2010.

18 September 2010

Come out in full force against regime of stoning and flogging on September 18; protests will be held in over 30 cities worldwide

Join us.

I will be speaking about Sakineh at the Protest the Pope rally in London on the same day. Speakers at the protest march and rally organised to coincide with the day of the Pope’s prayer vigil in Hyde Park on Saturday 18th September have been announced. Protesters will gather at Hyde Park Corner before marching to Richmond Terrace (opposite Downing Street) for a rally which will include speeches from:
· Barbara Blaine, SNAP, the Survivor’s Network of those Abused by Priests
· Clara Connolly, Women Against Fundamentalism
· Andrew Copson, British Humanist Association
· Sue Cox, sex abuse survivor
· Professor Richard Dawkins, scientist
· Dr Ben Goldacre, journalist
· Johann Hari, journalist
· Father Bernard J Lynch, an openly gay catholic priest
· Maryam Namazie, One Law for All and Iran Solidarity
· Pragna Patel, Southall Black Sisters
· Terry Sanderson, National Secular Society
· Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner

Latest on Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani case

Latest on Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani case

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani forced to do another TV ‘interview’
Sajjad, Sakineh’s son, refused visitation again

September 18 protests against regime of stoning and flogging to be held in over 30 cities worldwide

Maryam Namazie’s Facebook account has been enabled but Mina Ahadi’s is still disabled

See open letter to Facebook founders on the matter

Sajjad Refused Visitation Again

PR 70

September 16, 2010

Sajjad Refused Visitation Again

Today, Thursday, like usual, Sajjad went to Tabriz prison to visit his mother [Sakineh Ashtiani]. They told him, “Sakineh is still not permitted to visit with you. Stop bothering us and don’t come back. Whenever there is a possibility of visitation, we’ll let you know.” This is while Vahid Kazemzadeh, chairman of the Islamic Republic’s Human Rights Commission’s 7th District announced on the 8th of September that Sakineh has unlimited freedoms in the prison and visitation with Sajjad and Saideh takes place every week.
We condemn the despicable way the Islamic Republic treats Sakineh and her children, and we demand Sakineh’s immediate and unconditional freedom. In fact, it is the leaders of the Islamic regime who should be prosecuted for 31 years of execution, stoning, flogging and torture.
International Committee against Stoning
International Committee against Execution
September 16, 2010

International Committee Against Stoning (http://stopstonningnow.com)

International Committee Against Execution (http://notonemoreexecution.org)

Spokesperson: Mina Ahadi [email protected] 0049-177-569-2413

Sakineh was forced to perform another television “interview”

PR 69
September 16, 2010
Once again, on Wednesday [September 15], Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani appeared on the 20:30 program of Seda va Sima, the Islamic Republic’s state television, and made statements to the effect that “I have not been tortured,” “my participation in the previous interview was my own decision,” and “whatever I have said in confession against myself has been my own words.”

It is has been a month since Sakineh has been deprived of visits with her children and her lawyer, and her connection with the outside world has been severed. Yet they [the Islamic Republic] has brought her in front of the television cameras to say whatever they have dictated to her. They cannot explain why a prisoner would appear on the television screen, in total freedom, to confess against herself, rather than to protest against what they have done to her.

These television shows, orchestrated by the Information Ministry and the judicial apparatus, are called “interviews,” but the whole world understands them to be a [coerced] show. And that merely broadcasting such an “interview” is enough to demonstrate how vulnerable and dispossessed Iranian prisoners are. If Sakineh had the least of freedom of speech, her first sentence would have been, “Why have I been deprived of seeing Sajjad and Saideh [her children] and my lawyer, deprived even of telephone contact with them?” Her second and third questions would have been, “Why are women not considered human under your regime?” And “Why, and for what charge, have I been flogged? Under what charge have I been sentenced to stoning and why have I spent 5 years in prison? Why has my closed file been opened again? Why has my lawyer’s home and office been ransacked, and why have you stolen my files? And why is your mass media propagating against me?”
Here, a government in its entirety, including the judiciary system, the state television, and the diplomatic system, have been mobilized against an imprisoned woman. Her connection to the outside world has been cut off, and she has been denied any right to defend herself, in order to pave the way to her execution. This reflects how absolutely a person in the Islamic Republic’s prisons is bereft of any and all rights. It also shows the desperation of the regime.

We condemn the despised Seda va Sima, the Islamic Republic’s state television, and we demand commutation of Sakineh’s execution and stoning sentence and her immediate and unconditional freedom. We call upon everyone to join the international protests on the 18th of September. The only answer to the Islamic Republic, both inside Iran and in the international arena, is intensified protest.

International Committee against Stoning
International Committee against Execution
September 16, 2010
The link of interview with Sakineh.

My Facebook account has been reinstated but I am not returning without Mina

UPDATE 21 September 2010: No further action required – both Mina and my Facebook accounts have been reinstated. Thanks for all your help on this!

Hi all

Just to send you all a huge thank you for your help on this. Facebook has written to me apologising for the inconvenience and reinstating my account. There wasn’t much explanation given other than some general recommendations, which don’t really apply to me. I have written asking for clarification on why this happened. I haven’t returned to Facebook though because Mina’s account has still not been reinstated. I’ll only come back when she does.

Thanks again. Will keep you posted.

An open letter to Facebook founder on Maryam and Mina’s Facebook accounts

UPDATE 21 September 2010: No further action required – both Mina and my Facebook accounts have been reinstated. Thanks for all your help on this!

Mr Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook Headquarters
156 University Avenue
Palo Alto
California 94301-1605

Dear Mr Zuckerberg,

I am writing to ask that you reinstate the Facebook accounts of Maryam Namazie and Mina Ahadi as a matter of urgency. Their accounts were disabled without warning on Monday 13 September 2010. As well as reinstating these accounts, we ask that an explanation is provided as to why they were disabled.

Maryam Namazie and Mina Ahadi are well known human rights campaigners who have worked globally to end the barbaric practice of stoning, as well as other human rights abuses. Both have been awarded Secularist of the Year by the National Secular Society (UK) and named in the top 45 ‘women of the year’ by Elle magazine in Canada.

Ms Namazie and Ms Ahadi’s campaign to save the life of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani – an Iranian woman recently sentenced to death by stoning for adultery – has undoubtedly contributed to the prevention of her execution. Therefore, it is vital that their Facebook accounts be reinstated and their campaigns allowed to continue unfettered; Facebook provides them with an important communications tool and method of increasing support for their work.

Not only were these accounts disabled without warning, but without reason. At present therefore, we have little choice but to assume that their Facebook accounts have disabled for political reasons.

Please clarify the reasons for these accounts being disabled, and whether or not Facebook respects the rights of human rights campaigners to work freely and without prejudice on your website.

We look forward to your immediate response.

Anne Marie Waters, Spokesperson, One Law for All, UK
Terry Sanderson, President, National Secular Society, UK
Ophelia Benson, Editor, Butterflies and Wheels, USA
Hassan Radwan, Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, UK
Joan Smith, Journalist, UK
Professor A. C. Grayling, Philosopher, UK
Fariborz Pooya, Iranian Secular Society, UK
Mahin Alipour, Equal Rights Now, Sweden
Annie Sugier, President, Ligue du Droit Internaitonal des Femmes, France
Nazanin Afshin-Jam, Human Rights Activist and President, Stop Child Executions, Canada
Maria Hagberg, Chair person of the Network Against Honour Related Violence, Sweden
Issam Shukri, Organization to Defend Secularism and Civil Rights in Iraq, Canada
Sonja Eggerickx, President, International Humanist and Ethical Union, Belgium

Protest Facebook’s disabling of Maryam Namazie and Mina Ahadi’s accounts

UPDATE 21 September 2010: No further action required – both Mina and my Facebook accounts have been reinstated. Thanks for all your help on this!

As you know since yesterday Mina Ahadi and my Facebook accounts have been disabled. I have written to Facebook asking them to reinstate our accounts but have yet to receive a response. Anne Marie Waters, of One Law for All, is currently writing a letter to the heads of Facebook on this. We can only see this as an attack on the campaign to save Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani and call on Facebook to immediately reinstate our accounts as we need them in order to highlight this important campaign and the many others we work on.

Activist Abbas Goya has asked people to write protest emails to Facebook about this.

Here is his email to them, which also gives you email addresses that you can use to file your complaint:

To: [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]

Cc: Mina Ahadi; Maryam Namazie

Subject: Strongest Objection: FB appears fallen into Islamic Republic Terror attempt

To Whom It May Concern

This is to notify Facebook about my strongest objection for disabling two Iranian renown Human Rights activists accounts almost simultaneously.

I personally believe that Islamic Republic agents have something to do with it and Facebook appears to have fallen into their trap.

Please reinstate their accounts IMMEDIATELY.

A thorough, detailed note is posted and shared on his wall.

BTW, I know that many others have been emailing Facebook as well. Thank you for that. Please keep pressuring Facebook until they reinstate us.

Will keep you posted on what happens.

Remember Us! A letter from Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani’s two children

These days, still,
We are lost in our pursuit.

Time goes by and
We become more complicated,
We become less capable of making sense of this life.
How can we make sense of this life?

Sure enough, like children all do,
We too knew the secrets of the universe.
We too listened to the tales told by the flowers…
Oh, not to forget the butterflies!
Alas, our childhood was lost in our pursuit!

Dear Mother!
We are so tired now; now more than ever, we long for the tranquillity, the warmth of being held in your arms. We are exhausted from chilling accusations, tired from crying in our loneliness, weary of weeping in the crowd of strangers. We are spent from walking through our lives alone on an unlit path, being so scared, so constantly, that fear now takes pity on us. We ache from travelling this lonely path of sadness. We want to cry with you; you wipe our tears from our cheeks. We want to hold on to you, and stand alone no more; we yearn to kiss your cheeks.

Yes dearest mother!
It is years since we felt your protecting presence in our lives, or that of our father. Our eyes are fixed on the door; might they let us hear from you? We want to part from this stalemate; but not without you, dearest companion.

We ask ourselves: Who are we? Why are we here? What was the purpose of our existence? Was it to be tortured? Why and for how long? We were left alone, having only each other to hold on to, in the chill, dark, fear-filled alleys. While other little girls sat on their mothers’ knees having their hair combed, my sister, in the bitter cold with only a shirt on, stood shivering behind the high walls, begging to be allowed to see our mother. While I (Sajjad) was witnessing my father’s painful murder – and even more painful, the false, dirty accusations against our mother of killing our father, by those of the Islamic Republic with stones in their hands – those my age sat together with their fathers going through their homework. If we had been given a chance to go to school, we would have loved to write the word “mother” wrong, only so we could draw the punishment from the teacher to write and re-write a thousand times on a clean, white sheet of paper: “mother”!

Would Victor Hugo, if he were alive, create his Les Misérables, and Cosette and Fantine, or Charles Dickens his Oliver Twist and Fagin, when they had us to write about? If Cosette later found her Jean Valjean, if Oliver Twist had his Mr. Brownlow to protect him, the story of our lives is abysmal, is a black whirlpool of breathtaking uncertainty. It is an unfair fall into an endless helplessness. Our protector Mr. Kian (Sakineh’s lawyer) himself has no haven to turn to. He may no longer set foot in the court because he has defended us; he himself needs a (defense lawyer and) protector. What a tragedy is this story of our lives and our future. Perhaps that Information agent was right last week, saying, as they ransacked our lawyer’s office: “Even if you get your mother back, we won’t let you have a life. The world is concerned with your mother, yet you are at our mercy.” How deadly is religious fundamentalism, and how back-breaking the weight of the cross we carry on our back.

We don’t really know what would have become of us if we didn’t have Mr. Kian in Iran, and you abroad. We really don’t know and can’t imagine that. The day I, in tears and total desperation, called an angel named Mina Ahadi, the day that conscience placed Mr. Kian on the same path with us, the day that we were embraced by your support – these are the only moments of joyful hope in our miserable lives. These are the lanterns burning amidst total darkness and hopelessness. So… we humbly beg you, remember us and those like us. Remember our lawyer Mr. Kian and all those like him. Remember Shiva Nazar Ahari, Mohammad Oliyifard, Nasrine Sotoudeh, and all those like them.

We humbly beg you!
Sajjad and Sayideh, to the whole world.

Translation: Ahmad Fatemi, Maria Rohaly

Facebook has disabled Mina Ahadi and my accounts!

UPDATE 21 September 2010: No further action required – both Mina and my Facebook accounts have been reinstated. Thanks for all your help on this!

Update: I just found out that Facebook has also disabled Mina Ahadi’s account – it is becoming quite clear what this is all about, isn’t it?

Here’s what I had written earlier. We are working on a letter to the heads of Facebook on this.

****

Facebook has disabled my account. When I went to log in today, I found I could no longer access it. Other than the below general note, I can’t seem to find anyway to email or speak to someone about this to reinstate it.

The reasons the general notes say it may be disabled are:

■Continued prohibited behavior after receiving a warning or multiple warnings from Facebook
(I have never received any warning – not even this time)

■Unsolicited contact with others for the purpose of harassment, advertising, promoting, dating, or other inappropriate conduct
(I only contact people in groups of which I am admin for.)

■Use of a fake name
(I am obviously using my real name)

■Impersonation of a person or entity, or other misrepresentation of identity
(Again not the case here with me)

■Posted content that violates Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities (this includes any obscene, pornographic, or sexually explicit photos, as well as any photos that depict graphic violence. We also remove content, photo or written, that threatens, intimidates, harasses, or brings unwanted attention or embarrassment to an individual or group of people)
(Err, I know I have been threatened on Facebook and they are all still around but it’s never been the other way around so not sure why my account has been disabled….)

They do also add in the general note:

‘If you have not posted violating content or otherwise violated our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, keep in mind that your account may have been recently compromised by someone else. Also, our systems sometimes disable accounts temporarily for security reasons.’

This is the most likely reason – so Facebook reinstate my account immediately please.

Interesting that this happens whilst we are organising for September protests though isn’t it?

BTW, if anyone knows how to get my account active again, can you please advise. I can’t find one email address or contact form to fill out.

Thanks

Maryam

Stoning is not people’s culture – it’s the regime’s!

On the psychologist and the executioner

On the 5 September BBC Sunday Morning Live debate on ‘whether it is right to condemn Iran for stoning, studio guest psychologist Aric Sigmund made some interesting (to say the least) contributions during the debate ‘is it right to condemn Iran for stoning.’ He said:

‘I have been to Iran by the way, and like many places it’s a shame – one of the kindest cultures who are terribly kind to children; we never see that on the news, we only see the extreme things. But aside from that this is a really a question about moral imperialism. I think we should obviously protest but that is very different from expecting them to conform to the way we do things…’ He went on to say: ‘we expect every other culture because we have computers and nuclear power and so on that they will evolve their legal system as quickly as we have changed ours.’ (Italics are mine)

I know. I know…

I am not sure what this is called in clinical terms, but in political ones, it is a classic case of cultural relativism, which is the basic need to explain – and in truth condone – vile regimes and legal systems by saying it is part of people’s culture.

After all whose culture are we talking about?

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani’s culture (educated until 5th grade) who ‘wants to live’ or that of the Islamic regime of Iran that wants to kill her?

Whose?

Sakineh’s 22 year old transport worker son, Sajjad, who writes open letters to the people of the world despite threats and intimidations asking for help in saving his mother’s life or the regime that has already flogged his mother twice – once in front of his very eyes when he was only 17?

Whose culture?

Mina Ahadi’s who is spearheading the international campaign in her defence or the regime that executed Mina’s first husband in the very same prison Sakineh languishes in?

Whose?

Neda’s and the millions who poured out onto the streets in 2009 or the regime that shot at protestors and killed her in broad daylight?

The people who are kind to children that Aric Sigmund probably met when he travelled to Iran are not one and the same with a regime that has the highest rate of child executions in the world.

I don’t think this is so hard to understand. You can’t sweep the death penalty in the US under the carpet by saying Americans are kind, now can you? But somehow this is acceptable when it comes to a place like Iran.

And by the way, are Sakineh and Sajjad ‘moral imperialists’ for opposing stoning in Iran? And am I one for opposing executions in the US and elsewhere? How absurd. The whole point of political and social protest movements like the international campaign to save Sakineh’s life is that people everywhere have a right and duty to intervene on humanity’s behalf. To say otherwise, when it comes to a place like Iran – is the racism of lower expectations and double standards.

And of course Aric Sigmund does not come on BBC programmes to say that people’s legal systems need time to evolve when the likes of the Islamic regime of Iran takes power and – within one month – imposes compulsory veiling on women and girls via brute force. The cultural defence only ever supports reaction and medievalism, and never the progressive demands and values of people resisting it day in and day out.

Clearly, first and foremost, it comes down to a matter of choice. One either chooses the culture of the regime and the executioner – as Aric Sigmund has – or that of Sakineh, Sajjad and the protesting people of Iran – as millions of others have.

***

The above is part of a series of responses to a 5 September BBC Sunday Morning Live programme.
Here are my previous entries:

Ayatollah BBC, 10 September

A woman’s life is at stake, a reply to BBC Sunday Morning Live Executive Producer’s email, 9 September

An open letter to the BBC Sunday Morning Live programme on its bias against Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, 8 September. You can see the programme in this entry.

Ayatollah BBC

Below is another email from the BBC Sunday Morning Live Executive Producer dated 10 September which still refuses to respond to my criticism or request. Since the programme clearly doesn’t want to address this issue in an unbiased manner, I won’t be replying. What for? Instead I will take my complaint to a higher public body and will report back here when I do.

As an aside, though, there’s a good reason they are known as Ayatollah BBC in Iran. After all who holds a debate entitled ‘is it right to condemn Iran for stoning’ when the regime has stepped up its efforts to kill Sakineh? And whilst the whole world has risen up in outrage?

Here’s the second email:

Dear Ms Namazie

Thanks for your email.

We completely understand the depth of feeling you express on this subject. That is precisely why we held the debate about stoning in Iran.
When referring to “official” Iranian government policy on this issue Susanna was very careful to use that word each time – “officially”. That clearly implies this is a government line – not necessarily one to be credibly believed. Otherwise we simply would not have had a reason to debate a subject which as I said we may well return to.
We had two contributors from outside of the studio who provided context to a debate in which our studio guests entirely condemned stoning. As I mentioned in my previous email, I regret that we did not have sufficient time during the discussion to take your contribution.
Sincerely
Richard Pattinson
Executive Producer
Sunday Morning Live
BBC One

Iran stoning case: ‘Our mother is innocent and should be released unconditionally’

Join September days of action against stoning, execution and flogging in Iran

Hello

Since I last wrote to you Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani has again been flogged 99 times for an unveiled photo mistakenly attributed to her. She has also been threatened with execution, and denied visitation rights. Even, her lawyer’s home (Hatoun Kian) has been ransacked and his computer and documents seized. Court documents pertaining to Ms Ashtiani’s husband’s closed murder case have also gone missing.

Her 22-year-old son Sajjad is extremely concerned that the Iranian authorities are trying to frame Ms Ashtiani for his father’s murder by constructing a ‘new’ murder case to refute the stoning sentence. Unfortunately a number of media outlets have bought into the lie (see for example BBC Sunday Morning Live’s bias here. In fact, the press have been given a copy of the actual court judgment of stoning for adultery at a 30 July press conference in London. Also, even the man who has been found guilty of murdering her husband has not been executed. In Iran, under Diyeh laws, the family of the victim can ask for the death penalty to be revoked. Ms Ashtiani’s son explains why he and his 17 year old sister spared the man’s life in an interview with French writer and philosopher, Bernard-Henri Levy.

Despite all the regime’s outrages against Ms Ashtiani, her lawyers and family, on 8 September, a government official had the audacity to deceivingly claim that Ms Ashtiani had not been denied visitation rights, that her televised confession was not made under duress, and that she had not been flogged again. He also went on to say that her execution had been halted when no official documents halting her stoning or execution have been given to her lawyer or family.

Clearly this is yet another one of the regime’s ploys to push back the international campaign in her defence by giving the false impression that Ms Ashtiani is safe.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

On 18 September, we call on citizens everywhere to come out in defence of Ms Ashtiani and against the regime of flogging, stoning and execution. We are also calling for protests during 23-24 September when Ahmadinejad will be addressing the UN General Assembly.

Nothing can and will stop us from defending Sakineh’s precious life and bringing an end to the medieval and barbaric punishments of stoning and execution.

Let’s keep the pressure on.

We look forward to receiving news of your actions and events at Actions for Sakineh.

Warmest wishes

Maryam

Maryam Namazie

PLEASE ACT NOW!

1- Find out about 18 September 2010 and 23-24 September 2010 actions here. The events will be updated on a daily basis.

2- Send actions you are organising in your city of residence to [email protected] so we can post it on the events page.

If you need help organising an event, see our toolkit on how to organise an action in your city.

3- See reports from the brilliant 100 Cities against Stoning that took place on 28 August. Thanks to all of you who participated. It was an historic day and hopefully one of many more to come!

4- See an updated list of those stoned or awaiting death by stoning compiled by the International Committee against Executions here.

5- Send Sakineh a postcard 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

6- Write letters of protest to the Islamic regime of Iran demanding Ashtiani’s release and an end to stonings, floggings 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: [email protected] 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

Ali Khamenei
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street – Shahid Keshvar Doust Street
Tehran, Iran
Email: (English)
(Persian)

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: [email protected]

7- Sign petitions in support of her case if you haven’t already done so. Here are two of them here and here.

8- Write to government officials, heads of state, MEPs and MPs in your country of residence and the UN 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.

9- 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.

10- For more information, contact:
Mina Ahadi, International Committee Against Stoning and International Committee Against Executions, [email protected], 0049 1775692413.

Maryam Namazie, Iran Solidarity, iransolidaritynow[email protected], 0044 7719166731, Iran SolidarityBlog.

Maria Rohaly, Mission Free Iran, [email protected]

BBC Sunday Morning Live: A woman’s life is at stake

A BBC Sunday Morning Live Executive Producer has responded to my complaint. Below you will see his email and my reply.

8 September 2010

Dear Maryam Namazie

Thank you for your email to Sunday Morning Live this afternoon, which I am pleased to respond to. I understand two of my colleagues have also apologised to you for the fact that you were not able to take part in Sunday’s discussion.

Our debate on Sunday was whether we were right to condemn Iran over the stoning of women. On our studio panel we had two contributors who both condemned stoning and argued that we were right to condemn Iran for carrying it out, and a third who condemned the stonings themselves. The discussion was introduced using a filmed interview with a campaigner for women’s rights in Iran. We also had two contributors via webcam: one who spoke on Sharia law; and a lawyer from Tehran who tried to explain the position of the authorities in Iran.

I regret that there was insufficient time during what was a heated discussion for us to take a contribution from yourself, and would like to take this opportunity to apologise for that. I do not believe, however, that the debate was an unbalanced one. Indeed, all our guests in the studio went out of their way to condemn this medieval practice.

As we’ve said, the Sunday Morning Live focus was on whether it was right for countries such as ours to try to intervene. We certainly do not believe we in any way minimised the horror of stoning, and I don’t think anyone watching the debate could come away feeling that it had been anything other than condemned in the strongest terms.

When the “murder” issue was raised, Susanna Reid pointed out that Ms Ashtiani’s guilt was contested.

We take some exception, therefore, to the suggestion that the programme gave any succour, even unwittingly, to a regime that may indeed be manoeuvring for ways to implement a penal policy which we clearly signalled, at the start of the item, as belonging to the Middle Ages.

For many of the reasons you mention it may be all too likely that we return to Ms Ashtiani’s plight in a future programme. If and when that happens we would of course want to consider your making a contribution to the on-air debate.

With very best wishes.
Richard Pattinson
RICHARD PATTINSON
Executive Producer | Sunday Morning Live | BBC One

Here is my reply:

9 September 2010

Dear Mr Pattinson

Thank you for your prompt albeit disappointing response to my email regarding the 5 September BBC Sunday Morning Live programme on the Iran stoning case. Whilst I am not surprised, I must still insist on the provision of factual corrections with regards stoning in Iran and Sakineh’s case in your upcoming programme.

Your response clearly fails to address the main point I made, which is that your presenter, Susanna Reid, made factually incorrect statements that gave the impression to viewers that Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani is not to be stoned, that stoning does not take place in Iran or is rare and that Ms Ashtiani is facing execution for murder rather than adultery. Even where your presenter added that her guilt was ‘contested’ (as you mention) it was to reiterate the fabricated murder charge against her. Also, the introduction by a women’s rights campaigner, whilst interesting, gave no information on Ms Ashtiani’s specific case in order to help contradict statements made as facts by your presenter. Moreover, that some of your studio guests condemned stoning and the government despite your programme’s misinformation is a credit to them not the programme itself.

Unfortunately your response makes it seem as if my complaint is about my not being able to participate in the debate. It is not. It is about the adverse effects of the programme’s bias on the life of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani.

Saying that stoning is no longer in existence in Iran or labeling Ms Ashtiani a murderer has direct bearings on her case. As I have said before, we must not forget that a woman’s life is at stake. After all, if we agree with her son that it is the international campaign in her defence that is keeping her alive, then such misinformation has direct and adverse effects on her situation. Also, isn’t the media bound to provide accurate information even in a religious programme? Is it accurate for your presenter to say: ‘the Iranian government says it is stopping stoning as a punishment for adultery and homosexuality’ and then go on to make a contradictory statement saying: ‘Officially the Iranian government does not condone stoning. There has been an official moratorium since 2002. Officially it has been dropped from the penal code?’

As an aside, your email states that the reason I was not brought on was the result of insufficient time. However, a phone call message from your colleague on 5 September said it was because viewers in the poll taken were ‘overwhelmingly’ in favour of condemning Iran for stoning which is why you had two proponents of stoning join via webcam and no-one opposed to it. Since the poll conducted was about whether ‘money [was] ruining sports, I find both her explanation and yours lacking.

In any case, I look forward to a resolution of this matter.

Sincerely

Maryam

Maryam Namazie

****

To see my original complaint and the programme itself, click here.

The Islamic Republic’s of Iran’s new manoeuvre will be thwarted

Press Release 66
September 8, 2010

Under worldwide pressures to overturn the stoning and execution sentences against Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani and secure her release, Iran’s Islamic Republic has resorted to a new ploy. Vahid Kazem-zadeh, the District 7 Secretary of the regime’s Islamic Human Rights Commission, stated today on MashreqNews website, quoting the Head of the Judiciary, that the execution of Sakineh has for now been halted. He added that no restrictions had been imposed on Sakineh in prison, the weekly visits with her son, Sajjad, and her daughter, Saeedeh, had continued, she had not been subjected to a new round of flogging and she had not been coerced into the state TV interview in August. In response, we wish to make the following statement:

1- The Islamic Republic’s judiciary has also many times previously, under the pressure of worldwide protests, said that a decision on Sakineh’s case has been postponed. This is a familiar tactic of the regime in order to buy time and deflect the international pressures. In this way, the regime wants to give the impression that Sakineh is not in any immediate danger and to push this issue off the agenda of the worldwide campaign to save Sakineh and of the media and states which have supported her. However, even concerning the stay of execution, Sajjad, Sakineh’s son, has said that no official document to this effect has been given to Sakineh’s lawyer.

2- The statement by the District Secretary of the Islamic Human Rights Commission claiming that Sakineh and her children have been able to meet is also a pure lie. Sajjad and Mr Houtan Kian, Sakineh’s lawyer, have repeatedly said that Sakineh has not been allowed to see her children and lawyer for two weeks, and that even telephone contact with her has been cut. By claiming that the decision on Sakineh’s execution has been postponed and that Sakineh’s condition in prison is fine, the regime’s Human Rights Commission wants to undermine the international protest against the restrictions imposed on Sakineh, her flogging for the second time and the coerced televised confession. Sajjad has said that all prison visits are recorded and has challenged the Islamic Republic to produce evidence that Sakineh and her children have met.

3- Our campaign will continue until Sakineh is freed and reunited with her children at her home, until the stoning sentence of all the others condemned to death by stoning have been revoked and until the barbaric punishment of stoning has been abolished. Our response to the Islamic Republic’s manoeuvre and the shameless assertions of its Human Rights Commission is to continue the protest without letup against the regime and to expose its crimes. We call on all citizens of the world to answer these claims of the Islamic regime of stoning by vast participation in the worldwide protests called for 18 September. This is the only way to push the regime back completely and secure the release of Sakineh. We also call on personalities, organisations and states that have protested against Sakineh’s stoning and execution sentences and demanded her release to keep up the pressure on the Islamic Republic, to help thwart its manoeuvres and to keep insisting on the demand for the revoking of Sakineh’s stoning and execution sentences and her release.

International Committee Against Stoning (http://stopstonningnow.com)
International Committee Against Execution (http://notonemoreexecution.org)
Spokesperson: Mina Ahadi [email protected] 0049-177-569-2413

Sajad Ghaderzadeh: Our mother is innocent and should be released unconditionally.

PR 65
Sept. 8, 2010

I ask the eight industrial countries and the governments of Turkey and Brazil and the entire world to continue the pressure against the Islamic Republic and don’t assume that the case is resolved.

Announcement made by Sajjad Ghaderzadeh, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani’s son, regarding the statement of the Press Secretary of the Islamic Republic’s Judiciary power about Sakineh and the regime’s Islamic human rights

Shahrivar 17, 1389

Regarding the statement of Mr. Ramin Mehmanparast, press secretary of the Judiciary power: as we have so far not received an official and legal document on stopping the stoning sentence and execution, we therefore do not accept these claims. They must issue us legal documents in this regard.

Regarding our mother’s statements, as the interview had not taken place in the presence of our lawyer Mr. Hootan Kian, but rather in the presence of Azad Press, we cannot confirm the [contents], as the circumstances surrounding this interview are not clear.

About beating up and maltreatment with regard to this interview, Mr. Kian has not received any news yet.

Regarding our mother saying that we have a weekly visit, the Islamic Republic must produce evidence that we visit our mother every week. Our name should be registered there to prove these people have been there to visit the inmate.

Regarding this statement, we, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani’s children, declare that our mother is innocent and should be freed by the Islamic Republic immediately and without any conditions.

I have an announcement to make to the world. I ask the eight industrial countries and Turkey and Brazil and the entire world to continue the pressure against Iran, and do not assume that the case is resolved. We do not have any official document. If the Islamic Republic is sincere, it should produce evidence.

Sajjad, son of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani

Disseminated by the International Committees against Stoning and Execution

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

http://stopstonningnow.com/wpress/

Open letter to BBC Sunday Morning Live on its unfair and biased reporting

Maryam Namazie
8 September 2010

BBC Sunday Morning Live invited me to join its debate on whether ‘it is right to condemn Iran for stoning’ on 5 September 2010 via webcam. During the debate, the programme allowed only two interventions via webcam (that of Suhaib Hassan of the Islamic Sharia Council and Mohammad Morandi of Tehran University – both of whom were in support of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani’s stoning and/or execution). I (who had presumably been invited to defend Ms Ashtiani and oppose stoning in the debate) was never given the opportunity to speak.

To the BBC’s Sunday Morning Live Programme

I am writing to ask that you rectify gross inaccuracies regarding Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani’s case and that of stoning in Iran in your upcoming programme.

Presenter Susanna Reid repeatedly provided misinformation on Sakineh’s case and on the practice of stoning in Iran during the 5 September debate on whether it was ‘right to condemn Iran for stoning.’

The first major inaccuracies were regarding the practice of stoning in Iran.

In the clip preceding the debate, Susanna Reid said that ‘the Iranian government says it is stopping stoning as a punishment for adultery and homosexuality.’ During the debate, she said: ‘Officially the Iranian government does not condone stoning. There has been an official moratorium since 2002. Officially it has been dropped from the penal code.’ Obviously these two statements contradict one another – either the Iranian government has stopped stoning or it is stopping it, but has not yet done so.

In fact, stoning is still part of the penal code. Moreover, despite a 2002 moratorium (which is not the same as officially dropping stoning from its penal code), 19 people have been stoned since and including 2002.

And far from being rare, as Ms Reid stressed on a number of occasions, there have been 150 known cases of death by stoning since 1980 with more than 20 people awaiting death by stoning in Iran right now, including Azar Bagheri who was 15 when she was arrested. The list of those stoned or awaiting death by stoning compiled by the International Committee against Executions can be found here.

Furthermore, contrary to the comments provided by the Islamic Sharia Council, stoning sentences are issued not only when there are four witnesses but also as a result of confession, thus explaining why Ms Ashtiani was forced to ‘confess’ on TV, clearly under duress.

The other important inaccuracy was that Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani has been sentenced to execution for the murder of her husband. This was mentioned a number of times in the programme without providing information to the contrary.

In fact, Ms Ashtiani has been sentenced to death by stoning for adultery and not for murdering her husband. At a 30 July press conference in London, Mina Ahadi of the International Committee against Execution and International Committee against Stoning and I provided evidence of the stoning verdict. You can see a copy of the actual court judgment of stoning for adultery here.

Sakineh has never been found guilty of murdering her husband in an Iranian court. Even the man who was found guilty of her husband’s murder has not been executed. In Iran, under Diyeh laws, the family of the victim can ask for the death penalty to be revoked. Sakineh’s 22 year old son, Sajjad, explains why he and his 17 year old sister spared the man’s life in an interview with French writer and philosopher, Bernard-Henri Levy.

The reason the Islamic regime of Iran is branding her a murderer and denying sentences of death by stoning for adultery is because of the international campaign in her defence and against the medieval and brutal punishment of stoning. It hopes to provide legitimacy for her execution now that it may not be able to stone her because of the public outcry. Unfortunately your programme has done the same.

Given that a woman’s life is at stake, it becomes all the more urgent for your programme to rectify its inaccuracies.

I look forward to your immediate response and action.

****

You can see an Executive Producer’s response and my reply here.

Notes:

1. The programme can be seen here until next Sunday and begins at 47.00 minutes.

You can see it here too since it won’t be available after 12 September 2010:

2. Every day from today until next Sunday’s programme, I will write a post on my blog addressing other issues raised in the debate, which never received a response.

3. For more information:
Maryam Namazie
BM Box 6754
London WC1N 3XX, UK
Tel: +44 (0) 7719166731
[email protected]
www.maryamnamazie.com
maryamnamazie.blogspot.com

Saturday September 18th: Citizens of the World against the Regime of Flogging and Stoning

A Call for Urgent Action

The Islamic Republic has once again, in accordance with its savage Islamic laws, flogged Sakineh 99 times. The regime has used a picture published in the London Times of a woman, purportedly Ashtiani, whithout the Islamic hijab, as an excuse to flog her on charges of spreading corruption and indecency. The regime last week threatened Sakineh to be executed on Sunday August 29th. And of course both the execution sentence and stoning are still hanging over her head.

Sajjad told the audience of today’s press conference in Paris by phone that he’s worried that by the conclusion of Ramadan this week, his mother would be executed.

Indeed we are dealing with a sadistic Islamic regime. It is killing Sakineh little by little, to demonstrate its continued existence. Every move of this regime further reveals the depths of its savagery, the utter absence of peoples’ rights, the dimensions of the regime’s misogyny, the sheer defenseless of prisoners, the barbarity of the judiciary system of this regime, the backwardness of religious laws, and the heights of the regime’s savagery and blood lust, and – at the same time – its total impotence.

It is necessary to come out with full force to save Sakineh Ashtiani and stand against the Regime of Stoning and Flogging.

We have always said that as an effective step to supporting the people in Iran in their struggle against the Islamic Republic, this regime should be politically boycotted and its embassies and offices closed around the world. For years we have said this regime should be expelled from the international community, from the United Nations, from the International Labor Organization, and all other communities, and not to be recognized as the representative of the Iranian people. The time to implement these demands is now.

The people of Iran do not accept that the Islamic Republic be given a podium from which to speak by any entity or government . The Islamic Republic is the shame of humanity and its leaders must be prosecuted for 31 years of daily crimes against people.

We ask all citizens of the world to demonstrate on Saturday, the 18th of September, in all cities around the world, against the Islamic Republic of Flogging, Stoning and Execution. Demonstrate and condemn this regime. Announce that Sakineh must be immediately and unconditionally free. Stoning, execution, flogging and the like all should be abolished forever. Demand that this Regime of Flogging, Stoning and Execution not be recognized and that its offices and embassies be closed everywhere.

Announce that Ahmadinejad should not be permitted to take part in the General Assembly of the United Nations, from behind a podium, as the representative of Iranian people. Prepare yourself for demonstrations against the Regime of Flogging and Stoning and Execution. Tell your friends. Decide the place and time of demonstration and inform us. We know that this is short notice, but this time, we must try to have even larger demonstrations that on the 28th of August.

International Committee Against Stoning (http://stopstonningnow.com)
Iran Solidarity (www.iransolidarity.org.uk)
Mission Free Iran (www.missionfreeiran.com)
International Committee Against Execution (http://notonemoreexecution.org)

September 6, 2010