On August 28, 2010, Washington DC participated in the 100 Cities Around the World against Stoning protests. The event, held in DuPont Circle, Washington DC, was organized by Mission Free Iran.
The purpose of the protest was to support Sakineh Ashtiani, Maryam Ghorbanzadeh, Azar Bagheri, and all others under sentence of stoning; to support all political prisoners in Iran; to demand an end to the barbaric practice of stoning in Iran and everywhere else that it is practiced; and to set the agenda going forward for what needs to be done to ensure that the Islamic Republic can never stone another human being to death.
Maria Rohaly opened by welcoming everyone and thanking them for attending such a historical event, as it was the first time that people on every continent except Antarctica had stood up together in protest against the brutality of the Islamic Republic regime and the savagery of qesas punishments in Islamic theocracies. Maria then introduced Mina Ahadi, of the International Committees against Stoning and Execution, who has led the campaign to save Sakineh Ashtiani and had joined the Washington DC community for the significant 100 Cities protest.
Mina Ahadi opened with a statement about Sakineh’s case, and about the necessity of removing the Islamic Republic from power in order to stop atrocities like stonings. She also noted that stonings happen predominantly in countries where sharia law was practiced, and that sharia law should be abolished.
Mina brought a letter with her that had been dictated over the phone by Sajjad Ghaderzadeh (Sakineh’s son) that morning, to be read at the protest. Later in the day, we had the honor of receiving a direct call from Sajjad to the 100 Cities demonstration in Washington DC, and by extension worldwide.
Mina Ahadi reads a letter from Sajjad (Sakineh Ashtiani’s son) to the world (in Farsi):
Next, Maria Rohaly spoke about the need for all governments to stop treating the Islamic Republic as if it were a normal government and to start treating it as the illegitimate, brutal dictatorship that it is. She stressed that there is a reason why the regime stones people to death and hangs them publicly from cranes: it is because it is only through gruesome horrors such as this that the regime can stay in power. It is not a legitimate government so it must rely on abject violence, arbitrary detention, torture, rape and execution in order to subjugate the population and maintain control; otherwise the people would removed the regime from power.
She also talked about the need for tough diplomatic sanctions as the most ethical and humane approach to dealing with this regime: shuttering the Islamic Republic’s offices and embassies worldwide; removing the Islamic Republic from all UN organizations, first and foremost the UN Commission on the Status of Women; and freezing bank accounts and imposing diplomatic travel bans. This approach takes pressure off of people struggling inside of Iran so that they can implement their own actions to unseat this regime. Economic sanctions and military incursions hurt everyday people badly, and help the regime. Such measures only create more problems for people in Iran and are to be avoided altogether. Finally, it is the responsibility of people in America to ensure that Ahmadinejad is not allowed to set a single foot in the United States should he attempt to attend the UN General Assembly meeting in New York City at the end of September.
We, as members of the Iranian Left Alliance, as always, oppose the oppressive policies of the Iranian Regime and condemn the decision to execute Sakineh. The Iranian Left Alliance, which has been active in the greater Washington area since January 2003 strongly:
– Supports the struggle of the Iranian people in replacing the oppressive and anti-democratic Islamic Republic by a democratic, independent and secular Iran.
– Opposes the intervention of foreign powers, including and especially the United States, in the internal affairs of Iran.
A member of the community, Saeed Salehinia, spoke during the free speech period.
Blogger and human rights activist Josh Shahryar used his time during the free speech period effectively and assailed both the inhuman Islamic Republic regime as well as the Obama administration’s unacceptable appeasement approach to the Islamic Republic.
He focused on the brutal treatment of women by the regime, including stoning, as a primary indicator that this regime must be isolated and delegitimized by the international community. No government should have normalized relations with a regime that violently subjugates more than half of the country’s population.
Just after Josh spoke, Mina received a call from Sajjad. She held her mobile phone up to the megaphone, and everyone gathered around to hear the courageous young man speak (Farsi transcript and translation to English is below):
“Greetings to everyone who participated in my mom’s demonstration and those who have pictures of her in their hands. I want to say that we love you very much and I am thankful for your kindness and attention. The news that sometime ago was put out by the Human Rights Office of the Judiciary is an absolute lie, and we have noticed that my mom’s file has now been lost. The Islamic Republic has altered the file and they have entered Mr. Kian’s home (my mom’s lawyer) and all of the documents have been taken away, even his laptop and other belongings. And then they went to my mom and by beating her, forced her to say certain things. We want from the whole world to help us in this ordeal. All of those people who are supporting us in Iran, such as Mr. Kian, they are in danger. And once again, I thank everybody.”
سجاد قادرزاده پسر سکنیه در تماس تلفنی با مینا احدی در تظاهرات واشنگتن
با سلام خدمت کسانی که در تطاهرات مادر من شرکت کردند و تابلوهایی از تصاویر مادر من در دستشان است.
میخواهم بگویم خیلی دوستتان داریم و خیلی از این همه لطف و عنایتیان متشکرم.
این بخشنامه ای که ملاحظه کردید که از حقوق بشر قوه قضایه صادر شده بود یک دروغ محض است و ما متوجه شدیم پرونده مادرم گم شده و جمهوری اسلامی پرونده را دستکاری کرده و متاسفانه این هفته ریختند خانه آقای کیان وکیل مادرم و همه اسناد مادرمان را بردند و همچنین کامپیوتر و لاپتاب ایشان را و رفتند سراغ مادرم و زورکی و به زور ضرب و شتم آوردند پای تلویزیون و گفتند شما این حرفها را بزنید. من از همه دنیا میخواهم که در این مساله به ما کمک کنند و جان همه مردمی که از ما حمایت میکنند در خطر است وکیلمان آقای کیان هم همینطور. باز هم میخواستم از همه شما تشکر کنم.
We then spent about 15 minutes shouting chants that called for the end of the Islamic Republic regime and for the support of freedom, equality, and human rights in Iran.
The event was closed with Mission Free Iran’s reading of the 100 Cities Resolutions of August 28, 2010, which had the following demands:
1 – The immediate and unconditional freedom of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani and all other prisoners in Iran sentenced to be stoned to death.
2 – The abolition of stoning in Iran and elsewhere. We demand that the United Nations urgently adopt a specific resolution forbidding stoning as an inhuman punishment all over the world.
3 – Not recognizing the Islamic regime of stoning in Iran as the government of that country and, thus, banning it from all international bodies.
4 – Bringing to trial the perpetrators of stoning. Stoning is one of the most abominable forms of crime against humanity. Any individual, group, organization or state executing the punishment of stoning must be prosecuted and tried by international tribunals.
We are grateful to Mohammad Moslehi for providing translation for Ms. Ahadi and for Sajjad. We are also grateful to PR for Personal Rights for their photography and videography assistance as well as preparation of the stoning mannequin and banners. Many thanks to M, who prepared the visual displays and helped with organizing. Mission Free Iran appreciates the efforts of all who attended and especially those like Joanne Michele and friends, who reached out to passing community members to raise awareness about the situation in Iran, and its implications both for people in Iran and worldwide.