A member of the Basij forces shot Neda. As she fell to the ground and her beautiful eyes took a last look at the sky, Neda (which means “divine message” in Farsi) became the unforgettable face of the Iranian people. Her death became the iconic symbol of a nation, which, in its quest for justice and freedom, has suffered tens of thousands of casualties.
Cruelest of punishments
The West must decide
Iranian judges can, and do, sentence women to death by stoning for alleged adultery. Under the IRI judicial system spousal rape is not illegal, according to its penal code, four male witnesses or three men and two women are required for rape conviction. IRI government allows a man to escape punishment for killing a wife caught in the act of adultery if he is certain she was a consenting partner. In 2008, 50 honor killings were reported
during a seven-month period in Iran, the punishment for perpetrators was often a short prison sentence. Under the Sharia law in Iran a woman has the right to divorce only if her husband: signs a contract granting that right, cannot provide for his family, or is a drug addict, insane, or impotent; while a husband is not required to cite a reason for divorcing his wife. To IRI courts the testimony of two women is equal to that of one man.
“President Clinton and Secretary of State Christopher are to be congratulated on their insight and forsightedness [sic] in presenting a report to congress rejecting the (PMOI) as an alternative to the present regime.”[Full page Public Announcement by The Azadegan Foundation endorsed by 71 high ranking retired U.S. generals and admirals, Washington Times, Feb. 17, 1995.]
Not only has the U.S. Administration ignored the national uprising of the Iranian people against the theocracy in Tehran during the past 18 months, but some U.S. politicians including former Mayer of New York City Rudy Giuliani, former White House advisor to Bush Administration Frances Townsend, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, and former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge have been tangoing with high ranking members of the PMOI (also known as MKO or MEK) as an alternative solution to the regime in Tehran. For decades Iranian nationalists for a free and secular Iran have struggled with Western media and politicians to show the true nature of a dangerous communist Islamist cult, the PMOI.
Among PMOI’s endless historical achievements are: the May 1972 assassination of U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Harold Price; June 1973 assassination of U.S. Army Lt. Col. Lewis Hawkins; May 1975 assassination of U.S. Air Force Col. Paul Schaeffer and Lt. Col. Jack Turner; August 1976 assassination of three American civilian employees of Rockwell International; December 1970 abortive attempt to kidnap U.S. Ambassador Douglas MacArthur; and implementation and support for the 1979-1981 American embassy hostage crisis in Tehran (Focus on Iran, Vol. II, No. 7, July 1995).
There are compelling reasons to rectify this policy discrepancy. Like Libya, the Islamic Republic of Iran is a place where dissent has been put down, with varying degrees of brutality, for decades—since the early days of the 1979 Revolution. There, torture is rife and the family members of dissidents are intimidated, kidnapped and sometimes raped; hundreds of political prisoners, minorities, homosexuals and women die at the hangman’s hands every year, following hasty trials held in utter disregard for the most elementary rules of fairness and justice; and cruelty is dispensed regularly for the sole purpose of instilling fear in the population. Until Iranians openly challenged their regime following the June 2009 fraudulent elections, Western democracies did little to question Iran’s treatment of its own people. But then, Iran erupted. Its people, chanting “death to the dictator,” made it clear even to the most obtuse observers that their rulers kept power by force, not consent. Western leaders offered words of condemnation, but little else. Now is their second chance to show they’re not indifferent to Iranian people’s suffering, by hitting Tehran with similar measures to the ones they’re imposing on Gadhafi. Last week U.S. Senator Mark Kirk, a Republican from Illinois, gave a decent start, sponsoring a resolution calling for human rights to become a key tool of U.S. foreign policy toward Iran—a call the Obama Administration should now heed. The European Union, meanwhile, still has Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi on its travel-ban list, on account of his recent role as the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. Since his appointment as Iranian Foreign Minister, there has been talk of lifting the travel ban to allow Salehi to fulfill his stately functions. But at a time when Iran’s entire state apparatus is intent on silencing the opposition and crushing peaceful street protests, Salehi should not be given the gift of travel. The same travel ban, along with asset freezes, should immediately be slapped on other Iranian officials, starting with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and all the other figures who bear command responsibility for human-rights violations. Obvious candidates include Iranian “Supreme Leader” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei; Saeed Jalili, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council; and their gaggle of policy advisors. The EU should not stop at the top brass—for every order given at the top to fire on protesters, torture prisoners, coerce confessions, issue harsh sentences and otherwise intimidate, violate and abuse innocents, an army of enforcers carries out the deed. So the EU should next name hundreds of Iranian officials at various levels of authority: Basij and Revolutionary Guards local commanders, judges in political trials, prison wardens, and their mid-level bosses in Iran’s ministries of Intelligence, Interior and Justice, for a start. These officials should also be barred from travelling, and their assets frozen. International arrest warrants should be contemplated against them for crimes against their own people. And diplomatic immunity—which the U.K. has now lifted for Gadhafi—should be similarly denied to all top Iranian officials. The EU should immediately recall all its member states’ ambassadors who are still in Tehran, and refuse to return them until Messrs. Mousavi and Karroubi are released. The same applies to other Western countries, such as Australia, Canada, Japan, Norway, South Korea and Switzerland, who enjoy full diplomatic relations with Iran. The EU, along with other Western democracies, should also move to undermine Iran’s standing in international forums. The farce of Libya sitting as a full member of the U.N.’s Human Rights Council finally came to an end this week, but an equally absurd spectacle continues with Iran’s membership in the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women. May it come to an abrupt end. Beyond that, the West needs to invest in helping the Iranian opposition. The country’s battered democrats desperately need free information, which the West can provide through boosting its Farsi-language radio and television broadcasts inside Iran. They also need the communication technology to bypass government strictures and keep them safe from Tehran’s digital monitors, which the West could help provide with licenses to export the relevant machinery and transfer it to the right people inside Iran. Finally, Iran’s dissidents need a safety net in the West for those who manage to escape; political asylum should be offered to those who flee Iran. International sanctions are no substitute for the courage the Iranian people need to confront their tyrants. But sanctions would offer them some succor, and would finally extract a price for the drunken orgy of violence that has gone on in Iran for far too long. In a rare moment of moral clarity, last week Western policy makers adopted punitive measures against Gadhafi. Here’s hoping that same clarity now informs their policy with the Iranian regime.
Int. Com. Against Stoning – 2 March 2011
The Islamic Republic of Iran has sentenced Houtan Kian, the lawyer of Iran stoning case Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, to death by hanging. He had received four consecutive death sentences. Three were revoked; the fourth has been upheld. Reliable reports received by the International Committee against Stoning confirm this fact. Houtan Kian was arrested in October 2010 along with Sajjad Ghaderzadeh, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani’s son, and two German journalists during an interview. Whilst the latter three have been released, Houtan Kian faces imminent execution. Moreover Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani’s death sentence has been confirmed. Upon hearing the news, it is reported that Sakineh attempted suicide but survived. We are outraged at these heinous sentences of death and are calling for urgent action to stop their executions and secure their immediate and unconditional release. They have done nothing wrong. Houtan Kian’s only crime has been to defend a woman facing death by stoning.
Sakineh’s only crime has been to be a woman in the Islamic Republic of Iran and under Sharia law. Only strong international pressure will and must save them and the many others awaiting their death in the execution capital of the world.
Mina Ahadi, Coordinator of the International Committees against Stoning and Execution
Patty Debonitas, Spokesperson of Iran Solidarity
Maryam Namazie, Spokesperson of One Law for All
For more information contact: Mina Ahadi, email@example.com, Tel: +49 (0) 1775692413 or Patty Debonitas, firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: +44 (0) 7507978745.
Below are some of contact details that may be useful:
email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Working group on arbitrary detention: firstname.lastname@example.org
Human rights & international solidarity email@example.com
EU Foreign Affairs High Representative
Catherine Ashton: COMM-SPP-HRVP-ASHTON@ec.europa.eu
Selah Hennessy – March 02, 2011
Iran is coming under increased scrutiny for the number of executions it carries out. Media reports from Iran on Wednesday reported the punishment for 10 drug traffickers. Human rights groups say Iran executes more people per capita than any other country in the world. The United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay said last month that there has recently been a dramatic increase in the number of executions carried out in Iran. She said the rate was three times higher than that of last year. In the latest instances of capital punishment, Iran’s Arman newspaper reports seven people were hanged on Tuesday in Kerman Province in southern Iran. A judiciary website reported another three executions in Fars Province, also in the south. It didn’t say when the executions took place. All ten were convicted on drug charges.According to international law, the death penalty should be limited to the “most serious crimes,” which the U.N. says applies to crimes that are lethal or have extremely grave consequences. Drewery Dyke is an Iran researcher at Britain-based Amnesty International. “Therefore the application, as is the case in Iran, of the death penalty to forms of drug trafficking, drug related crimes, to extremely vaguely-worded charges such as ‘Moharebeh’ or enmity against God, for which we have seen both this year and last,” Dyke said. “These are really beyond what is provided for in international law.” Amnesty says Iran is second only to China in the number of people it executes.
In 2009, Amnesty says Iranian authorities put 388 people to death. Iranian media reported 179 hangings last year and 89 executions so far this year. According to New York-based Human Rights Watch, Iran is one of only three countries that, since 2009, have put someone to death for a crime they committed before turning 18. The other two countries are Saudi Arabia and Sudan. Iran says the death penalty is needed to maintain law and order. Amnesty’s Dyke says Iran also has historically used the death penalty in part as a political tool. “The Iranian authorities have used the implementation of the death penalty – and mass use of the death penalty – to convey a message to would-be opponents of the regime to get in line,” Dyke added. Iranian authorities have cracked down in recent weeks on political unrest that was revived by successful uprisings against authoritarian leaders in Tunisia and Egypt. Iranians who oppose the leadership of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have gathered under the Green Movement that sprang up after Ahmadinejad was re-elected in a disputed poll back in 2009. Anthony Skinner is a Middle East expert with the London-based risk analysis group Maplecroft. He says Iran’s administration may use the death penalty as a way to intimidate potential opponents. “The government obviously wants to put a lid on the Green Movement, it wants to deter the Green Movement from gaining any kind of momentum from Libya and elsewhere in the broader (Middle East/North Africa) region,” said Skinner. “And it’s trying to intimidate and trying to intercept communications and trying to use whatever mechanisms it has in its power in order to basically defuse the thrust of the Green Movement. Some hard-line politicians in Iran have called for the trial and execution of two Green Movement leaders, Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi. Opposition sources say both are being held in a Tehran prison although Iranian authorities have denied this.