Iranian authorities are considering executing Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani by hanging rather than stoning, according to the latest reports on this mother of two.
Her original sentence of death by stoning was lifted amid international condemnation, including from Canada, the European Union and other countries. The Vatican pleaded for clemency. Brazil offered asylum. This latest development has not raised much outrage. It should.
Ms. Ashtiani is serving 10 years after being convicted of helping to kill her husband. She was also convicted of having an “illicit relationship” with two men, a crime punishable by stoning, according to Islamic law. According to Amnesty International, she has received 99 lashings as part of her sentence.
In 2010, Laureen Harper, the wife of the Canadian Prime Minister, and Indigo CEO Heather Reisman wrote to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, calling for her release from prison. Their letter read: “As mothers, sisters and daughters, we are gravely concerned about the unfair, undue legal processes faced by women in Iran. Repugnant sentences, such as death by stoning, are routinely rendered against women in Iran.” Lawrence Cannon, the minister of foreign affairs at the time, also expressed concern over reports she was forced to confess on Iranian television.
Last month, a resolution adopted by 89 United Nations member states condemned stoning and the rise in death sentences for crimes “lacking a precise and explicit definition,” and Amnesty International released a report on the “dramatic rise” in death sentences for drug offences.
In Ms. Ashtiani’s case, though, the outcry has gone quiet. A Web site calling for her release, with a petition signed by Mrs. Harper and a host of celebrities such as Hugh Jackman, Sting and Yoko Ono has not been updated since 2010.
Mohammad Javad Larijani, secretary-general of the Iranian High Council for Human Rights, has reportedly said stoning should be considered a punishment, not a form of execution, adding it is more lenient. Why? Because half of the victims survive.
The international community must keep up the pressure.