Statements and actions in Support of International Day against Stoning

LATEST STATEMENTS AND ACTIONS, Updated 10 July 2011

AUSTRALIA

Statement from Russell Blackford, author and philosopher, Australia: It is unacceptable that the barbaric punishment of death by stoning continue in the twenty-first century. I join with many others throughout the world in calling for an end to the practice of death by stoning, condemnation of any government that uses or condones the practice, including the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the immediate release of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani and others currently sentenced to death by stoning.

BELGIUM

Ann Brusseel of the Flemish parliament: will issue a resolution for 21 July (Belgian National Day) urging the Federal government to take action on violations of human rights and crimes against humanity of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Statement from Sonja Eggerickx, President, International Humanist and Ethical Union: I write on behalf of the International Humanist and Ethical Union to express our support for the International Day Against Stoning on July 11, 2011. The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) is the global federation of Humanist and atheist organizations, representing more than 100 groups from 40 countries. As the voice for Humanists around the globe, we call on all Humanists and all people of conscience to support the International Day Against Stoning. We also call on all people of conscience to raise their voice to save Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani who remains imprisoned in Iran facing the possibility of death by stoning. We recommend the International Day Against Stoning Website at http://stopstonningnow.com/wpress/4334 for advice and support in campaigning against stoning in general and for working to save Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani in particular.

Statement from Women Council of Belgium: Democracy contains the same values everywhere and we must defend it in the same way all over the world. What reasonable person, whether European or from elsewhere, can still be in favor of stoning? Or female genital mutilation? Or hanging homosexuals? Or confining women at home? Women are more than half of humanity! Stoning is among the most the barbaric violence of the 21st century and massacres against women are perpetrated over and over again! In Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sudan, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Pakistan, Yemen, to name the main countries, death by stoning is still a punishment to which women – mostly – are still subject to… And ironically among these countries some have signed conventions of Human Rights. Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani has languished for too many years in an Iranian jail. She has already been punished with 99 lashes administered in the presence of one of her two children. How can we speak of “justice”? Stoning in Iran is a political tool in the hands of a, religious, Islamic, archaic and repressive regime decided to oppress the society in one of the hardest ways that exist. In countries experiencing armed conflicts and in countries that have introduced Sharia law, violence against women is organized. Women who cannot defend themselves are the victims of fanatics and Islamic courts. Today the voice of Sakineh reached the world and today Sakineh represents all victims of obscurantism. In Belgium we demand the abolition of stoning, which is a brutal murder that nothing can justify. On the International Day against Stoning in Belgium we say stop stoning now! Viviane Teitelbaum, President CFFB – women council of Belgium

BOTSWANA

Ferdinand Berkhof (Seheho) sent in a cartoon “worlds apart”:

CANADA

Vancouver
Act of Solidarity on corner of Howe and Robson
12.30-15.00 hours
Contact: Zari Asli,zariasli@yahoo.ca

Ottawa
12.00-14.00
Location: in front of Parliament

Toronto

Statement from Farzana Hassan, Author: Islamic law, as interpreted and applied in Muslim countries renders women especially vulnerable with respect to sexuality issues. For women, adultery, or a mere suspicion of adultery, can often land Muslim women in trouble with the law, particularly what passes for law in Iran, Saudi Arabia and other parts of the Muslim world. The question then is: Why does an act that cannot take place without two parties often result in such dire consequences for women alone? The obvious answer is the relative ease with which guilt can be established for women rather than men. For example, pregnancy is often interpreted as proof of adultery, and rape is often construed as adultery. The fallacy occurs because Islamic law in many parts of the Muslim world makes no fundamental distinction between rape and adultery. Victims of rape often end up being incarcerated for adultery because they are unable to prove their innocence due to unfair religious rulings on women’s testimony. But even if the law established culpability equally to both sexes, one must answer a very basic question about the prescribed Islamic punishment for adultery. A man may marry up to four wives, over and above the concubines with whom he may have sexual relations. Doesn’t that reduce a man’s chances of committing adultery, which would technically be defined as sex outside of marriage? A woman, on the other hand, has no such options. She may express her sexuality only within the bounds of her marriage to one husband. Therefore, even a single encounter with a man not her lawful husband immediately brands her an adulteress. The man may escape the charge of adultery by having several partners and regarding them all as legal. Such inequality of opportunity, which imposes the charge of adultery on a woman much more easily, makes equal punishment utterly unfair. Jurists and other modern exegetes of the Koran have regrettably failed to recognize the injustice. Moreover, the terminology has simply been manipulated to legalize men’s multiple unions and criminalize the same in women.Islamic law, as interpreted and applied in Muslim countries does not take into account the inequality of opportunity between men and women to express their sexuality. What is deemed perfectly legitimate for men is criminalized for women, leaving them vulnerable to sexual offences more often and far more easily. Muslim countries must therefore repeal such laws that discriminate between men and women in this manner. Laws must be based on secular and humanistic principles clearly embodying equality of the sexes.

DENMARK

Statement from Helle Merete Brix, Writer: I will participate in an action against stoning, this barbaric punishment that should long ago have been abolished. Thanks to the organisations letting the world know about the women and men in prisons in Iran and elsewhere being condemned to this inhuman punishment.

FRANCE

Paris

Several French organisations sent a press release to the media, a letter to the General Secretary of the UN, letters to ambassadors of the countries where stoning is practised and a special letter to the Iranian authorities. On 11 July, they will go to the Iranian embassy and give them the letter and hold a rally. The NGOs supporting the action are the following: Ligue du Droit International des Femmes, Association créée par Simone de Beauvoir,Mouvement Pour la Paix et Contre le Terrorisme, Regards de Femmes, Coordination Française du Lobby Européen de Femmes and Femmes contre les intégrismes

Postcard from Little Shiva:

Statement from the European Feminist Initiative: IFE-EFI strongly supports the International Campaign against Stoning and will be part of the International Day of protest on the 11th of July. Stoning, flogging, beheading are used on behalf of honour, religion, culture or traditions against women for trying to realize their most basic human rights. All freedom-loving people and the feminist movement across the world are saying NO and struggle to put an end to these inhuman practices. Stoning is still legal in a number of countries. IFE-EFI demands the immediate prohibition of this practice and its recognition as a crime against Humanity. We call upon the United Nations to exercise pressure on the States where stoning is legal in order to get from them the condemnation of this crime. Building States, in which religion is separated from the public sphere; from the political, educational and judicial system is a necessary precondition for preserving women from tyranny and oppression and achieving equality between women and men.

GERMANY

Frankfurt
Solidarity action
Hauptwache, 16:00 hours

Köln
Solidarity Action
Domplatte, 17:00

Statement frm Hartmut Krauss, HINTERGRUND-Verlag: Das im Iran herrschende staatsislamistische System verkörpert die gegenwärtig wohl perverseste Verknüpfung von mittelalterlich-religiöser Barbarei mit technologischer (atomarer) Modernität. Deshalb ist es eine Schande, dass dieses Regime nicht mit dem gleichen ökonomischen, politischen und kulturellen Boykott sanktioniert wird wie früher das südafrikanische Apartheidregime.
Die barbarische Strafpraxis der Steinigung gehört ebenso wie das gesamte islamische „Recht“ und seine Befürworter und Anwender auf den Müllhaufen der Geschichte. Das Schicksal Bin Ladens und die Destabilisierung einer Reihe von arabischen Despotien sind hoffentlich Vorboten einer letztendlich auch im Iran unvermeidbaren säkularen Revolution, in deren Verlauf die religionsfanatischen Steiniger und Missetäter zur Rechenschaft gezogen werden.

INDIA

Statement from M Hasan Jowher, President, Society for Promoting Rationality: Society for Promoting Rationality is dead against all barbaric treatments such as stoning. This is a painful baggage of a part of human history and is best consigned to archives. We offer our total support to all movements for the banishment of all such forms of punishments smacking of cruelty and barbarity…

IRELAND

Statement from Conor Scott: I wish to assert my absolute abhorrence of the practice of stoning. It is a way of torturing people to death. Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani is NOT guilty of any recognisable crime but yet she risks being stoned to death for adultery (not a crime). She should be immediately released! The death penalty should be abolished in Iran.

INDONESIA

Bogor, West Java

Teacher and activist Rafiq Mahmood sent a letter to the Jakarta Post and Jakarta Globe on stoning: This Monday, as in previous years, there are expected to be worldwide protests against the sentence of stoning decreed against Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani in Iran. She has been accused of murdering her husband without a shred of evidence, and the case has never been proved in court. She has been sentenced to be stoned for adultery purely on the “special knowledge” of a judge. Her execution has been held off only because of the weight of international pressure. She has had confessions extracted from her on television. She awaits a decision on her sentence. In the meantime she remains in prison. Her courageous lawyer, for no crime other than daring to defend her, also is in prison under a four year sentence. Although the focus of the International Day Against Stoning is on Iran and one particular woman victim of atrocious injustice, the events are intended to draw attention to the continuing presence in the world of this most barbaric and cruel form of state sponsored public murder. All forms of capital punishment are unjust, barbaric and cruel. They have no part in modern society. Stoning, however, is particularly cruel and discriminatory. It is a public display of the worst depths of human nature. It is designed and intended to punish an act of love. That an act of passionate love should be rewarded by an act of collective passionate hate does nothing for the benefit of society. It demeans and degrades us all. It is discriminatory. The evidence required against a man is far less than that against a woman. Women complaining of rape have to produce four male witnesses or eight female witnesses to the actual penetration. Even if she can prove DNA evidence, it is not enough for the sharia courts. Her accusation, however, is a confession, an admission that sexual congress occurred outside marriage. Enough to convict her. Even the sentence itself is discriminatory. If a man can manage to scramble out of the hole in which he is buried and run away, he is free. Men are buried up to their waist to cover the male auwrat. Women, to “protect” their modesty, are buried up to their necks. It is cruel. It takes a long time to die. There is a Goldilocks rule for the size of stones. They must not be too big – the victim must not lose consciousness too quickly from a heavy impact. Heavy stones might also fall too short of the target. They must not be too small – a small stone thrown with enough force could also be prematurely lethal. The province of Aceh unconstitutionally tried to introduce stoning. As more and more local governments ignore central authority and introduce their own brand of sharia sooner or later the issue of stoning elsewhere in Indonesia is bound to arise. Stoning is carried out in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Somalia. Sudan has vowed that with the independence of South Sudan the north will impose a stricter sharia regime. It is time that we said an unequivocal no to any attempt to introduce stoning into any part of the Republic of Indonesia and used our influence with other Islamic countries to eliminate this practice once and for all.

ITALY

Turin

Statement by blogger Gianni Verdoliva: Stones are for decorating gardens, not for killing women. Stoning is a barbaric practise that needs to be put in the garbage of history. In 2011 we can’t afford to stay silent while women die or risk dying in this horrific way. Stoning MUST be outlawed and the law MUST be enforced everywhere in the word. Together we can do it. By providing aid and support for potential victims, for local activists and their families. In this battle we can’t afford to pick and choose other supporters simply because we disagree with them on other issues. Anyone is welcomed. And also I point out that, when stoning is legally sanctioned and/or tolerated the state should be the object of diplomatic and commercial boycott and has to be shamed as a pariah state unless it changes. My support for your battle against stoning is heartfelt. As a feminist, as a humanist and as an independent free-thinker. I admire local on the ground activists and I wish them all the best. In feminist solidarity.

NETHERLANDS

Groningen
Act of Solidarity, 19:30 hours
Contact: Daniëlle Vermanen, via Facebook page

NIGERIA

Statement from Leo Igwe, executive director of the Nigerian Humanist Movement: In today’s world, it is shocking to know that there are states like Iran where human beings are facing stoning sentences. And as often the case, this barbaric form of punishment is used against the vulnerable members of the population like Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani and her associates in Iran. I want to join my voice with those of other friends around world to upon the government of Iran to abolish stoning and execution of human beings. And to free Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani Now. In solidarity with International Day Against Stoning. P.S. We are holding a humanist convention in Abuja in September 22-25. And there is a session on faith based human rights abuses. Please send a presentation on the international campaign against stoning.

SWEDEN

Malmö
Solidarity Action
Gustav Adolfs Torg, 17:00

UK

London

Flash mob action at 18.30 hours
Trafalgar Square
Contact: Patty Debonitas, iransolidaritynow@gmail.com

Statement from Richard Dawkins, Scientist and Author: July 11th is the International Day against Stoning. It is organised by, among others, Maryam Namazie, that admirably courageous fighter on behalf of threatened women in Iran and wherever Islam oppresses them. Please support her on July 11th, wherever you are.

Act of solidarity by Nazanin Mohajer:

Statement from Ahlam Akram, Researcher and Writer: Stoning to death is the world’s oldest form of brutal execution; it is a cruel insane punishment that was derived from Hammurabi’s laws in Iraq thousands of years before the three Abrahamic religions. Later, It was adopted by Judaism… up until Jesus famous anti stoning statement “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone’’. But it was re-enforced during the first years of Islam and practiced today in some fundamentalist Muslim States. Although there is no trace for this crime in any verses in the Quran… yet there are several talks about Omer Ben Al Qattab confirming that it was mentioned in some verses of the Quran, and that the prophet practiced it and all his companions followed his action… meaning that the entire community participates in this horrible act which dissolve the barrier of humanity in the community and the individual. And allows for a culture of violence in the society. The procedure is extremely barbaric and bloody, and plants the seeds for a culture of continuous humiliation and demonization of women. I urge all women to stand against it and urge the UN to ban any member state that allows it from gaining its membership. As well as depriving it from international community aid. For a universal culture of peace we need to confirm universality of human rights in particular women’s rights.

Statement from Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner: Stoning is a relic of uncivilisation. A barbaric crime against humanity, it is uniquely cruel and sadistic. The people of the world – and the United Nations – must do much more to end to stoning – and all other forms of capital punishment.

Statement from Stephen Law, editor of the Royal Institute of Philosophy journal THINK: It is important we stand in solidarity with people who are being intimated and killed by stoning, often on trumped up or absurd religious charges.

Statement from George Broadhead, Vice-President UK Gay And Lesbian Humanist Association, Secretary UK Pink Triangle Trust: I was appalled to learn that stoning is a punishment that is included in the laws in six Islamic countries – Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Pakistan, Yemen, the United Arab Emirates – and some states in Nigeria. This barbaric punishment amounts to torture before death and should have no place in the laws of any civilised society.

Statement from Ghaffar Hussain, Quilliam Foundation: We all should move to reject ancient and outmoded punishments, such as ‘flogging’ and ‘stoning’ as not being consistent with human rights and the modern world. We must recognise that the spirit of religious rulings can be realised away from the influences of the medieval mindset. Furthermore, these punishments were abandoned by the Ottoman Empire during the last 300 hundred years in its imperial life.

Statement from Nick Nakorn: There are some things in the world that are almost too horrible to think about and this issue is one of them – it seems almost impossible that anyone could think that torturing someone to death could ever be a good idea.

Statement from Amnesty International: We did issue this statement today which you are free to quote from, as it is a public document.

Canning Town Students protest over Iran Stoning case: http://www.london24.com/news/education/canning_town_students_protest_over_iran_stoning_1_956479

USA

Statement from Cyrus Nowrasteh, filmmaker, The Stoning of Soraya M: Soraya Manutcheri was stoned to death in the village of Kupayeh, Iran in 1986. She was framed by her husband who wished to avoid support payments in his desire to divorce her. He used a legal system imposed by the Islamic Republic of Iran called “Sharia” — which justifies the torture and suppression of its citizens, especially women. Since Soraya’s case innumerable women have been silenced by a repressive regime. This must stop. I commend the StopStoningNow campaign for bringing attention to the continuing grave injustice of stoning.

Statement from Antony Thomas, Filmmaker, For Neda: I appeal to all those who care about human rights and justice to show their outrage at the treatment of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, as well as the wider issue of stoning as a punishment for those who break the medieval laws of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Although I believe that all civilised people should reject the death penalty in any circumstance, this particular form of killing stands out above all others as the cause of a slow and agonising death. It is not only utterly degrading for the victim, it degrades everyone who participates in this barbaric ritual as well as the regime that permits it.

Statement from American Humanist Association Supports International Day Against Stoning, Washington, D.C.: Today, on the International Day Against Stoning, the American Humanist Association is raising awareness of the brutal practice of stoning and demanding the end of stoning as a form of punishment around the world. The American Humanist Association stands beside the International Committee Against Stoning and its effort to eradicate the cruel tradition of stoning, an inhumane method of punishment which affects predominantly women and girls in developing countries. Fundamentalist religious zealots around the world are responsible for enacting laws based on stringent and unforgiving moral codes, sometimes punishable by sentences such as stoning to death. Women are stoned for “offenses” such as giving birth out of wedlock, extramarital affairs, and even in response to false accusations of murder. Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, who has been imprisoned along with her lawyer for four years, was sentenced by the courts of the Islamic Republic of Iran for various charges of being an accessory to murder, public indecency (for appearing in court without the traditional Islamic veil) and adultery. International pressure has resulted in a stay of her execution, but she and her lawyer still remain in prison. This pattern of indicting women on false accusations, and on grounds of violating strict religious requirements, places a heavy burden on women to obey laws set in place by the influence of male clergy and lawmakers. The American Humanist Association condemns the act of stoning as brutal and inhumane. Humanists worldwide strive to protect the dignity of all and work to protect those accused of crimes based on fundamentalist restrictions on women. We are proud to support the International Committee Against Stoning and the Save Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani Campaign in their efforts to end this practice.
Roy Speckhardt, Executive Director, American Humanist Association

Statement from Atheist Alliance International: Stoning is a barbaric practice and should be outlawed immediately. It is disgraceful that such a crime is undertaken in the name of “justice”. Sadly, stoning is by no means the only disgusting practice supported by Sharia law. It is too late to save Maryam Ayoubi but we can try to save Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani and the many many others like her. Atheist Alliance International condemns stoning and is proud stand in solidarity with its victims and potential victims on 11 July. Tanya Smith, President, Atheist Alliance International

Statement from Fred Edwords, National Director at United Coalition of Reason: Stoning is the very symbol of what it means to be primitive, barbaric, and cruel.

Letter to Islamic Republic of Iran from Anne Slater, Radical Women, United States Section National Organizer: Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, falsely accused of murdering her husband, is still languishing in prison. This is despite the fact that another person was convicted of the crime and has completed his sentence. Ashtiani has already suffered the cruel and inhumane torture of 99 lashes – twice – for adultery, which is not recognized as a crime in most civilized countries. Authorities recently said that no final decision had been reached on her stoning sentence and that she must remain in prison. Her lawyer, Sajjad Houtan Kian, also remains in prison for having had the courage to defend her and other women condemned to stoning sentences. He has been given the outrageous sentence of four years imprisonment, been put under a lot of pressure and lost 20 kilos (44 pounds) as a result of his devotion to his profession and his principles. The campaign to Save Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani continues to speak out in defence of humanity, and against the barbaric punishment of stoning everywhere. It has mobilised immense pressure against and condemnation of the Islamic regime of Iran from millions across the globe. It will continue to do so until you adopt humane punishments and equal laws for men and women. As opponents of the death penalty in the United States, as well as internationally, on 11 July 2011, the International Day Against Stoning, we demand the immediate release of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, her lawyer Sajjad Houtan Kian, and others facing stoning sentences. We also demand a complete end to the barbaric practice of death by stoning.

Statement from Fred Edwords, National Director at United Coalition of Reason: Stoning is the very symbol of what it means to be primitive, barbaric, and cruel.

Letter to Islamic Republic of Iran from Anne Slater, Radical Women, United States Section National Organizer: Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, falsely accused of murdering her husband, is still languishing in prison. This is despite the fact that another person was convicted of the crime and has completed his sentence. Ashtiani has already suffered the cruel and inhumane torture of 99 lashes – twice – for adultery, which is not recognized as a crime in most civilized countries. Authorities recently said that no final decision had been reached on her stoning sentence and that she must remain in prison. Her lawyer, Sajjad Houtan Kian, also remains in prison for having had the courage to defend her and other women condemned to stoning sentences. He has been given the outrageous sentence of four years imprisonment, been put under a lot of pressure and lost 20 kilos (44 pounds) as a result of his devotion to his profession and his principles. The campaign to Save Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani continues to speak out in defence of humanity, and against the barbaric punishment of stoning everywhere. It has mobilised immense pressure against and condemnation of the Islamic regime of Iran from millions across the globe. It will continue to do so until you adopt humane punishments and equal laws for men and women. As opponents of the death penalty in the United States, as well as internationally, on 11 July 2011, the International Day Against Stoning, we demand the immediate release of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, her lawyer Sajjad Houtan Kian, and others facing stoning sentences. We also demand a complete end to the barbaric practice of death by stoning.

Statement from Meg Hixson: It deeply saddens me that in today’s world, a world that continues to grow and change every day, that there is a need for an international day against stoning. No such day should have ever had to have been brought into existence. This barbaric punishment is an unfathomable concept to most but for those in the Islamic Republic of Iran, among other countries, this is a very dark reality that they face and it must be stopped! For years we have heard the voices of those calling for an end to stoning but their voices have been silenced by the oppressive regimes that continue to enforce this horrific act. We can live in a world where such an inhumane punishment no longer exists. So this year, on this International Day against Stoning our voices must over power the regimes that seek to silence them and we must continue to fight for those who have fallen victim to this brutal act and for those who face it now.

Statement from Ophelia Benson, Editor Butterflies and Wheels: We are often told that religion is all about compassion, yet it is the “devout” regime in the Islamic Republic of Iran that thinks stoning to death is a good, holy, mandated-by-god punishment. Stoning is a monstrous, disgusting cruelty; it should not happen to anyone, anywhere, ever.

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