On July 2, 2010, Washington DC participated in the Global Protest Against the Stoning of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani. Mission Free Iran organized the protest, which was attended by members of R.E.A.L. Courage, members of Human Rights and Secular Democracy, and other friends. We stood in solidarity with Sakineh’s children to condemn the barbaric, misogynistic practices of the Islamic Republic and to demand unconditional freedom for Sakineh as well as all political prisoners in Iran, including Zeinab Jalalian.
We gathered outside of the Islamic Republic’s Interests Section of the Pakistani Embassy at 2209 Wisconsin Avenue with signs against the stoning of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, against the execution of Zeinab Jalalian, against the seating of the Islamic Republic of Iran on the UN Commission on the Status of Women, and in support of freedom and human rights in Iran.
Passing drivers gave plenty of support, and even Metro bus drivers and drivers of heavy trucks lent the deep blast of their horns to support our cause. Community members passing by on foot showed a lot of interest in our signs.
One of our group greeted a passing employee of the Islamic Republic with a friendly and conversational “Marg bar Jomhuri-ye Eslami” (Down with the Islamic Republic). He also rang the doorbell of the establishment and when the office staff answered over the intercom, he cordially replied, “Marg bar Jomhuri-ye Eslami.” (To which they responded “Marg bar you!” – Down with you!)
After displaying our signs for the passing traffic, we read the resolutions (EN | FA) of the days’ protests:
We are gathered here today in response to the plight of Sakine Mohammadi Ashtiani’s children. They have called upon the world for help to save their mother’s life. We in Washington DC tell them that we feel their pain and enormous grief. We want them to know that they are not alone in their sorrow and anguish.
Dear children! Your letter has raised a wave of sympathy and compassion, demonstrating that humanity is alive. Today we loudly declare that:
1 – The stoning verdict against Sakine Mohammadi Ashtiani should be discarded.
2 – Execution is murder by the state, and stoning is the most savage and merciless form of execution and should be abolished in Iran and worldwide.
3 – Sexual relationships between adults are private matters and no individual, no institution, and especially no government has the right to interfere in these matters
4 – We strongly condemn the Islamic Republic for its barbaric implementation of stoning, execution and torture and its enforcement of Qesas laws. We call upon all international institutions as well as the United Nation and the European Union to strongly condemn the Islamic Republic and demand that Sakine Mohammadi Ashtiani’s stoning verdict be overturned, as well as the verdicts of all others condemned to stoning and execution.
5 – We use this opportunity to demand immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners.
6 – The Islamic Republic of Iran’s leaders should be prosecuted and punished in an international court on charges of stoning and execution of tens of thousands of people.
No to execution.
No to stoning.
No to murderous Islamic Qesas laws.
The video of the declaration can be viewed below, with many thanks to R.E.A.L. Courage for their generous assistance with photography and videography.
After the reading of the resolutions, a couple of the protesters carried their protest signs down to the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington DC, which is a popular destination in the city, especially on Friday nights. We walked along the crowded sidewalks, and many people were interested in our signs and stopped us to ask about them. A commonly heard phrase was, “Stoning? I didn’t think that was done anymore! How barbaric!” We stopped and talked to several people who wanted to know more about what we were protesting. Notably, both men and women were equally interested in and disgusted by the Islamic Republic’s treatment of Sakineh.
We handed out two double-sided flyers to explain the situation. One flyer had the letter from Sakineh’s children and a sample letter to Navi Pillay on one side, with the story of Zeinab Jalalian and a similar sample letter on the other side; those flyers can be downloaded from Scribd (Sakineh | Zeinab). The other flyer had a letter to UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon, decrying the Islamic Republic’s seat on the UN Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW), on one side, with information about the US House Resolution 1371, which demands that the US work to remove the Islamic Republic from the Commission on the Status of Women, on the other side. Those flyers are also available on Scribd (UNCSW | HR 1371).
The protest was a success in that many people were informed about the latest barbaric acts against innocent people in Iran, and were further sensitized to the complete unacceptability of the Islamic Republic’s presence on the UNCSW. We also had the pleasure of meeting a group of activists, R.E.A.L. Courage, who we plan to support for their upcoming event on July 11, a counterdemonstration against a group that has been promoting the use of stoning to solve social problems and will be meeting later this month in Chicago. We also learned the immense value of taking our protest against the Islamic Republic for a walk down M Street in Georgetown, where we were able to personally reach out to and discuss the stonings and executions in Iran with other concerned people.
One woman we talked to expressed her disgust for the Islamic Republic’s efforts to stone Sakineh Mohammadi, and also for the presence of the Islamic Republic on the UN Commission on the Status of Women. I told her that I was gratified that the issue remains alive and people are still furious about it. She said, with a glint in her eye, “Of course – and it is because the struggle in Iran continues that people here remain angry about it.”
On our way back from Georgetown, we passed through an area where there were a lot of shops owned by Iranians. One shopkeeper had been standing in his doorway when we walked by, and he popped out of his shop with a “Marg bar Jomhuri-ye Islami!?” as we passed, almost as if it were a secret passphrase one had to speak to get the scoop on what we were doing. We stopped to talk to him about our protest.
We found support for Sakineh, for Zeinab, and for the struggle for freedom in Iran in many places in Washington DC on July 2nd. What we saw on July 2nd tells us that, in our opposition to the sadistic and inhumane barbarity of the Islamic regime, we are not alone – not at all. We are many.