The campaign to save the life of a woman in Iran from the terrible fate of a stoning death began just five months ago. In the span of that five months, working together around the world, around the clock, by forcing the Islamic regime into retreat, not once, but twice, we have, achieved something that hereafter is going to be a political force in the international arena.
In the first instance, in defiance against the terroristic barbarism of stoning, together we learned how to generate attention and support for Sakineh’s case. We learned how to impose our will on governments and force them into the arena to support our demands. We showed the Islamic Republic that their atrocious acts have political consequences: there is a price to pay for debasing human dignity and shattering the principles of human rights.
Together, in the name of human dignity, we stopped the stoning of Sakineh Ashtiani. We defeated the Islamic regime by having made it impossible for the regime to stone not only Sakineh, but to stone anyone else, period.
In stopping the stoning of Sakineh, we made history together by working across borders, languages, and ideologies. And we should recognize that our success in uniting globally for a common, humane and just cause has implications far beyond the fate of just one woman.
Although we stopped Sakineh’s stoning, her life remained in the malignant hands of the Islamic Republic. The moment the regime presumed that people’s attention to Sakineh had lapsed due to the length of the campaign, thought governments had been placated by the regime’s friendly gesture towards the forthcoming 5+1 nuclear talks, they seized the moment. Hoping for western governments’ usual silence, they moved to execute Sakineh by hanging.
The word of their plans went to the street on November 1. And we stopped the Islamic Republic a second time. In the span of a single day, we showed what we had learned over the preceding months, in the immediacy, strength, and effectiveness of our international response. In a single day, we rallied the forces for Sakineh and we shook the world. We did not allow the Islamic Republic to carry out its planned crime, and by that act we made the foundations of that criminal regime tremble.
But this is far from all that we have achieved! In standing for Sakineh, we stood for ourselves. We stood for all oppressed women and men, far beyond Iran’s geographical boundaries.
So: Congratulations on two magnificent victories against one of history’s most barbaric and violent regimes! But there is more to do.
There is more to do for Sakineh. We must free her, along with her courageous son Sajjad and her lawyer Houtan Kian.
1) To move towards freedom for Sakineh, we must make serious demands of the international bodies that consent, in their silence, to the practice of stoning. We must demand that the UN pass a resolution to criminalize stoning immediately.
And we must demand that governments that practice such violence against women, including the Islamic Republic, Saudi Arabia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, be immediately removed from their seats on the UN Commission on the Status of Women, and certainly not given a seat on the new UN women’s organization, UN Women. These states have no business whatsoever holding places on UN organizations whose sole purpose is to set global policy on gender equality.
By forcing the United Nations and our governments to accede to the humane and just demands of people worldwide, we further increase the pressure on the Islamic Republic, and all other states that rely on violence against women as a fundamental part of their domestic policy. And the more pressure we impose on the Islamic Republic in Sakineh’s name, the greater are our chances of getting her free.
2) While we work to abolish the practice of stoning in the world, we cannot forget that the killings continue non-stop in the prisons of Islamic Republic. VakilAbad prison in Mashhad is a killing ground, with 10 people executed on the same day that we saved Sakineh’s life for the second time, November 2. The majority of people executed there are Afghan people, but Nigerian and Ghanaian nationals also are being killed in VakilAbad. Most are moneyless, paperless, lawyerless… and sadly remain nameless to the outside world. These killings must stop.
3) Politically-motivated arrests, detentions, and tortures continue unabated in the Islamic Republic. The whereabouts of Sakineh’s son remain unknown; all that is known is that he is being tortured mercilessly, as has been Nasrine Sotoudeh, a human rights lawyer; Behrouz Javid Tehrani, a student activist; Mansour Osanlou, Behnam Ebrahimzadeh and many other worker’s rights activists; Saeed Malekpour, a Canadian resident and computer programmer; Zeinab Jalalian, a political activist; Zahra Bahrami, a Dutch citizen; and many others. Journalists and filmmakers are disappearing off of the streets and not heard from again. We must clamor for all of these too.
The whole world is talking about human rights in Iran. Human rights atrocities by the Islamic Republic, and the freedom of Iranian people, should be the priority issue when it comes to the subject of Iran, and thanks to what we have done together, we have made it so. We must recognize what we have done, and continue our work. It is work that leads us all to a more humane and free world in which to live.
This humane revolution may have its starting place in Iran, but the lessons we learn together can and should be shared and replicated throughout the world until together we have created a society worthy of being called human.
Our sincere regards and thanks for all of your hard work,
Mission Free Iran