Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani

Beverly Hills City Council Condemns Stoning in Iran

The Beverly Hills panel urges a halt to the ‘barbaric and abhorrent’ execution of a woman who allegedly committed adultery.

Source: Emily Henry of the Beverly Hills Patch

In a move demonstrating its awareness of human rights abuses, the Beverly Hills City Council passed a resolution at its July 22 meeting that condemns Iran’s practice of stoning and requests a halt to the execution of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani.

Ashtiani, 43, was convicted by Iranian courts in May 2006 of conducting an “illicit relationship outside marriage.” She was later sentenced to death by stoning for adultery. After an international backlash to the ruling, Iranian state media reported July 9 that Ashtiani would not be stoned. Yet it remains unclear whether Ashtiani will avoid the death penalty altogether.

Councilman John Mirisch, who initiated the resolution, described stoning as a “barbaric and abhorrent act.”

“It very clearly is something that is outrageous in so many ways,” Mirisch said. “And while our little statement may not be a lot, it certainly adds to the voices of people, governments and countries condemning this behavior.”

Amnesty International, the United States, Britain and the European Union have already condemned Ashtiani’s execution by stoning or any other means.

The city’s resolution states that the council “condemns the practice of stoning and urges Iran to immediately halt any plans to execute Miss Ashtiani.”

Mayor Jimmy Delshad reminded the council and members of the public that Ashtiani has already received 99 lashes as punishment for allegedly having sex outside of marriage.

“She’s on death row and her [22-year-old] son started this writing campaign that has gotten the whole entire world on this,” said Delshad, who emigrated from Iran in 1958. “So it can show you the power of one person all the way from Iran.”

The Iranian penal code states that sex outside of marriage is punishable by as many as 100 lashes, whereas adultery carries a sentence of execution by stoning. Although Ashtiani was initially convicted of the lesser crime—even though she was a widow at the time of the alleged incident—another court reopened her file and convicted her of adultery for events that allegedly took place before her husband’s death.

Since Ashtiani’s case came into the public spotlight, two more women—including a pregnant 25-year-old—have been sentenced by the Iranian courts to death by stoning.

In Iran, stoning victims are buried in the ground and pelted with stones by a crowd of executioners. Men are buried up to their waists. Women are typically buried up to their necks. The stones used are large enough to cause serious injury but not kill the victim, resulting in a slow and painful death.

“I just want to say how barbaric that is, how terrible it is and how disgusted we are to hear of anyone that would be stoned to death,” Delshad said.

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