Friday, 8 July 2011

On 11 July, International Day against Stoning - we can make a difference

Sakineh Ashtiani

Yes, we can make a difference. I say this, because we already have. No doubt, Sakineh Ashtiani is still alive today because of the public outcry, the worldwide protests and messages in her support.

People everywhere are outraged that such a monstrous brutality can still be happening today. Sakineh is still in prison and the Iranian regime can execute her any day, by stoning or other methods. And don’t think for a moment that this is justice. From the inhumane and misogynistic laws, false allegations, sham trials, being convicted because of the ‘knowledge’ of the judges, her incarceration in solitary confinement, to the handing down of a sentence that is never a punishment but sadistic torture. Stoning in places like Iran is a sanctioned, atrocious crime.

Maryam Ayubi
Of course, Sakineh is not the only one languishing in a prison cell, cut off from the world. Beginning and ending every day not knowing how long she has to live, how long it will be before she is being dragged out of her cell to be murdered. Ten years ago, on 11 July 2001, the Islamic regime in Iran did just that to Maryam Ayubi.  The mother of three was stoned to death in Evin Prison. There are the names and the horrendous deaths of 150 other people who were also stoned to death by the regime - and these are just the ones we know of. In Somalia, a 13-year-old girl reported to the authorities that she had been gang-raped by three men. For that she was charged with extra-marital sex and stoned to death in a football stadium by 50 men. Her name was Aisho Ibrahim Dhuhulow.

The nightmare of stoning continues. We know of at least 20 people in Iran alone who are in prison at this very moment, having been sentenced to death by stoning. 

Being held in a dungeon of isolation and fear, Sakineh won’t know that the world is still trying to save her. She won’t know that there are people and more people calling onto the world to save her. And the world, that is us. We will have to make so much noise, so much commotion that the news of our support will reach her. We will keep on the pressure until Sakineh is safely released.

11 July is just the beginning of the end of stoning in Iran and everywhere else.

We will make it happen. With our actions we can make a difference for someone like Sakineh who we have never met, but whose solemn face has been imprinted on our minds as a symbol of a monstrous crime that will continue. Unless we stop it.

Patty Debonitas
Iran Solidarity

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