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Stoning: victims, survivors, and the condemned

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 09 July 2010

International pressure has saved one woman in Iran from being stoned to death; but at least 10 people are still facing the cruel punishment, Channel 4 News discovers.

Iran stoning row: Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani

A major international outcry has saved one woman who was facing death by stoning after being convicted of adultery.

The Iranian Embassy confirmed to Channel 4 News that Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani will not face death by stoning - however it did not say whether she would still be executed by another means.

Ms Mohammadi-Ashtiani denies the charges of adultery and has already been punished, suffering 99 lashes in 2007.

Human rights organisations, including the International Committee against Stoning and Execution, said the fight to save her must go on.

Head of the organisation Mina Ahadi said: "Our pressure is working. We must intensify it until we secure a victory for the people of Iran by saving the lives of Sakineh and others. We mustn’t stop until we deprive the regime in Iran of this tool for suppression and murder." 

However, as Channel 4 News has been told, a further 10 people are still facing this punishment in Iran.  We cannot independently verify these stories.  

At risk of being stoned to death
The latest etimates from both Amnesty International and the Global Campaign to Stop Killing and Stoning Women is that at least 10 people still face the punishment. Their stories are below.

Iran was talking to the son of a neighbour in the courtyard of her house when her husband attacked her with a knife. She was left bleeding and unconscious on the floor. While she was unconscious, the son of the neighbour allegedly killed her husband with the same knife. She reportedly confessed to adultery with the young man but then retracted her confession. She was sentenced to five years in prison and execution by stoning. Her sentence has reportedly been overturned, but no re-trial has taken place, and she remains in prison in Ahvaz city.  

Khayrieh was sentenced to death for being an accomplice to murder and to execution by stoning for adultery. She reportedly suffered violence at the hands of her husband and began an affair with a relative of her husband, who then murdered her husband. Khayrieh confessed to adultery but denied any involvement in the murder. The sentence was upheld, and the case has reportedly been sent off for permission to carry out the execution. 

Ashraf Kalhori is a mother of four, who was sentenced to death by stoning for adultery and
to 15 years' imprisonment for taking part in the murder of her husband. She was accused of having an affair with her neighbour and encouraging the attack. She confessed, reportedly, under interrogation, but retracted her confession. She was due to be stoned to death in 2006, but campaigning has stayed her execution, so far.    

H, M.Kh, Kobra Babei, an unnamed woman, and three men - Mohammad Ali, Navid Khamani and Naghi Amani - are all being held in prison facing stoning sentences.  

Public sentiment in Iran seems to be turning against stoning as a punishment, and, as the Iranian Embassy confirmed to Channel 4 News, it is likely to be removed from law in the latest draft of the penal code.

An Embassy statement said: "It is notable that this kind of punishment has rarely been implemented in Iran and various means and remedies must be probed and exhausted to finally come up with such a punishment.

"It should be added that the stoning punishment has not been cited in the draft Islamic Penal Code being deliberated in the Iranian Parliament."

The Global Campaign to stop Killing and Stoning Women said: "The vast majority of the Iranian people are vehemently opposed to stoning. There is no history of stoning ever taking place in Iran before the 1979 Islamic Revolution and most Iranians find the practice revolting."

Stoning has been a relatively minor form of execution for Iran’s prisoners for some time, Steve Ballinger from Amnesty International told Channel 4 News.

Last year, Iran executed 388 people in total. Since 2006, estimates vary, but the Global Campaign to Stop Killing and Stoning Women suggests seven people have been stoned to death. 

Victims of stoning since 2006
Mahboubeh M and Abbas H
were both killed in 2006. They were found guilty of murdering Mahboubeh’s husband and commiting adultery with each other, and executed in Mashdad.

Jafar Kiani was stoned to death in Ghazvin province, 2007. He is the partner of Mokarrameh Ebrahimi, who remains in jail sentenced to death by stoning, although her case has some hope (see below).

Hushan Khodadaeh was stoned to death in 2008 in Mashdad.

Mahmoud was an Afghan citizen, also stoned to death in 2008 in Mashdad.

Unnamed man was also stoned to death in 2008 in Mashdad.

Unnamed man in 2009 was stoned to death, while his partner’s life was spared after she repented.

Campaigners say, whatever the law eventually becomes, there are still people at risk now and only international pressure will save them.

Nadya Khalife, Middle East women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch, told Channel 4 News : "International pressure is needed. The advocates inside the country are not allowed to put pressure on, or they are not getting anywhere. You have got to have international pressure. Iran has signed a number of treaties and needs to be held accountable.

"There was a moratorium in 2002 against stoning, and that needs to be taken seriously."

And the campaigns do seem to work – along with the limited victory achieved for Ms Mohammadi-Ashtiani, the human rights organisations estimate that increasingly large numbers of people have been saved or are close to being saved from death by stoning since 2006.

These people have also benefitted from the changing attitude towards stoning from both the authorities and the public in Iran mentioned above.

Some of the others initially facing stoning, such as Abdollah Farivar, were instead killed by hanging.  

Saved or helped by campaigning
Azar Kabiri
's punishment was commuted to 100 lashes in 2008.

Zohreh Kabiri was also spared from stoning, and instead commuted to 100 lashes in 2008.

Hejieh Esmailvand received a full acquittal. 

Parisa A and Najaf A were a married couple. Both had their sentences changed to lashes in 2006, but Najaf was also exiled to another city.

Fatemeh was sentenced to execution by stoning for having an "illicit relationship" with a man named Mahmoud and to death for being an accomplice to his murder in 2005. Her husband was sentenced to 16 years' imprisonment for being an accomplice. Her stoning sentence was found to be faulty and she was acquitted, and sentenced to three years for her role in her husband's murder.

Hajar was reportedly sentenced to death by stoning for adultery in 2007. She has been released as the High Court did not sanction the punishment, and sentenced to flogging.

Unnamed woman repented, but her partner was executed in May 2009.

Ghilan Mohammadi was imprisoned in Isfahan, her sentence was quashed and she was released in 2009.

Shamameh Ghorbani's brothers and husband reportedly murdered a man they found in her house, and nearly killed her too when they stabbed her. It is believed she then confessed to the adultery with the dead man in court, believing it would exonerate her husband and brothers from murder charges. Iranian law says murder may not be punished if it is committed to defend the honour or oneself of one's relatives. However, she did herself a disservice and was sentenced to execution by stoning for adultery in 2006. It has been reported that the Supreme Court has rejected her sentence and ordered a retrial.

Kobra N was allegedly forced into prostitution by her husband, a heroin addict who was violent towards her. She told one of her regular customers that she wanted to kill her husband after a particularly severe beating. The customer allegedly then killed Kobra's husband, but was pardoned on payment of blood money. She was been sentenced to eight years in prison for being an accomplice to murder, and death by stoning for adultery, but her sentence was commuted to flogging in January 2009.

Mokarrameh Ebrahimi faced execution by stoning for adultery with Ja’far Kiani, who has already been stoned to death. In 2007, her case was sent to the Amnesty and Clemency Commission. But she has since been released.

Leyla Ghomi was sentenced to execution by stoning, but the punishment was reduced to 100 lashes in 2008.

Zohreh Kabiri-niat's sentence was overturned in 2007, and then on retrial, she was acquitted. She had previously been flogged in connection with the same offence.

Azar Kabiri-niat's sentence was also overturned in 2007, and she was acquitted after a retrial. 

Soghra Mola'I was sentenced as an accomplice to killing her husband, sentenced to stoning for adultery. Her sentence has been reduced to 15 years in prison and lashes.


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