Sakineh Ashtiani sits in a prison in Iran waiting for her death to be carried out. The 42-year-old woman from the northern city of Tabriz was convicted of adultery in 2006, and her execution is imminent, said prominent human rights lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei. Ashtiani did confess but that confession was beaten out of her with 99 lashes
In an interview with Rooz online, her former lawyer, Mohammed Mostafaie reiterated that there are many flaws in her case. Two out of five judges have shown doubt in the case while the verdict must be unanimous. Besides, according to the Islamic Shariat law, 4 unbiased witnesses must testify to the case of adultery who in this case there are none. Sakineh has pleaded for a pardon on two occasions and has been refused. She does not have a plaintiff and her two children have testified to their mother’s innocence but that has all been ignored. Mr Mostafaie affirms that in some cities the judges’ decisions are biased due to cultural beliefs. The fact that in her file Sakineh has confessed to having out of marriage relations (though she has taken back her statement) plays a major role in the judgement.
Iran now claims they will not Stone Ms. Ashanti, but she says that just like the charges against her, her clemency is a lie and as soon as the public attention moves away, Iran will execute her in secret.
Mohammadi Ashtiani said: “I was found guilty of adultery and was acquitted of murder, but the man who actually killed my husband was identified and imprisoned but he is not sentenced to death.”
“The answer is quite simple, it’s because I’m a woman, it’s because they think they can do anything to women in this country. It’s because for them adultery is worse than murder – but not all kinds of adultery: an adulterous man might not even be imprisoned but an adulterous women is the end of the world for them. It’s because I’m in a country where its women do not have the right to divorce their husbands and are deprived of their basic rights.”
Its not just Iran, Islam preaches justice that is different for Woman than Men for example:
Sura 4:15 – Lewd women should be punished with life imprisonment until death: “If any of your women are guilty of lewdness, Take the evidence of four (Reliable) witnesses from amongst you against them; and if they testify, confine them to houses until death do claim them, or God ordain for them some (other) way.”
But men can get away with the same crime if they simply repent:
“If two men among you are guilty of lewdness, punish them both. If they repent and amend, Leave them alone; for God is Oft-returning, Most Merciful.” (Koran 4:16)
Because of language differences Ashanti didn’t even realize that she was to be stoned to death right a
“When the judge handed down my sentence, I even didn’t realize I’m supposed to be stoned to death because I didn’t know what ‘rajam’ means. They asked me to sign my sentence which I did, then I went back to the prison and my cellmates told me that I was going to be stoned to death and I instantly fainted.”
The only reason Ashaniti is still alive is her lawyer Mohammed Mostafaie spoke out and made her the focus of world attention. The Iranian Government objected to the transparency so they trumped up charges against Mostafaie forcing him to flee the country:
Mohammadi Ashtiani fears that the exile of her original lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaei, has made her more vulnerable. “They wanted to get rid of my lawyer so that they can easily accuse me of whatever they want without having him to speak out. If it was not for his attempts, I would have been stoned to death by now.”
Mostafaei volunteered to represent her for free and succeeded in bringing her case to world attention but fled to Turkey when Iranian authorities issued an arrest warrant for him. His wife is being held without charge in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.
Describing life inside Tabriz prison, Mohammadi Ashtiani said she has been subject to constant mistreatment by prison guards. “Their words, the way they see me – an adulterous woman who should be stoned to death – is just like being stoned to death every day.”
She thanked campaigners for highlighting her case and said international pressure was her only hope for release. “For all these years, they [the officials] have tried to put something in my mind, to convince me that I’m an adulterous woman, an irresponsible mother, a criminal but with the international support, once again I’m finding myself, my innocent self.”
Nothing like Islamist justice in action.