Has Sakineh Ashtiani been freed? Not yet


by Sunny
9th December, 2010 at 10:26 pm    

Quite a few sources are reporting that Sakineh Ashtiani, the woman sentenced to death by stoning in Iran has been freed. I was at Al-Jazeera earlier today, waiting to go on TV to speak about online protest, and I met a lady from The International Committee against Stoning.

She said their sources had told them that Ashtiani was going to be freed and this information had been leaked out. But it’s not been confirmed by the Iranian government yet and Iranian broadcasters are still reporting she is wanted for the murder of her husband (which is rubbish). Press TV has not yet reported anything on the matter either.

So it’s too early to celebrate. Though ICS expect this to happen eventually, you never know with the Iranian regime. A statement by the UK govt welcoming such a move by the Iranian govt might not go amiss either.

But it is worth saying that this has been an excellent example of grassroots worldwide anger (driven by the web) that has forced the Iranian government on the defensive. If Sakineh Ashtiani does get eventually freed it will be another victory for online protests (Avaaz.org led a massive petition to get her freed). The Guardian has a report here.
[Update: cleaned up my hurried and garbled English from earlier]

Update 2: This is the only news story out of Press TV so far: Ashtiani recounts murder on Press TV – not a good sign.


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  1. Kulvinder — on 9th December, 2010 at 10:29 pm  

    Still fingers crossed…

  2. douglas clark — on 9th December, 2010 at 11:38 pm  

    Sunny,

    Are Avaaz.org wrong when they said this:

    Sakineh is free! Post a message of celebration!

    That is some dark and horrible place to escape from.

  3. An Old Friend — on 9th December, 2010 at 11:47 pm  

    Hmmm, I wish other women in the world got this much attention… I wont say who though.

  4. douglas clark — on 9th December, 2010 at 11:55 pm  

    An Old Friend @ 3,

    Eh!

    Are you commenting on my post @ 2 or the OP?

    And who do you mean?

    That is sure some obscure comment.

  5. Sunny — on 10th December, 2010 at 1:19 am  

    Douglas – I’d say they’re jumping the gun. I’ll believe it when official Iranian media report it.

  6. Boyo — on 10th December, 2010 at 7:44 am  

    If I was in PR (as indeed I am occasionally!) and working for one of those big amoral companies advising dictatorships (never!) this is precisely what i would recommend – release one token stoning victim and with one stroke wipe away dirt attached to your regime for all the less publicised victims still languishing in prison, and the thousands of young people raped and murdered during the suppression of the Greens.

    I would even get that Cherie Booth back on my TV channel. What, you mean she never left?

  7. Sarah AB — on 10th December, 2010 at 7:53 am  

    Boyo – do you mean *Lauren* Booth?

  8. Boyo — on 10th December, 2010 at 9:54 am  

    Haha. yes. Mind you, cut from the same cloth an’ all…

  9. Rumbold — on 10th December, 2010 at 10:53 am  

    Boyo:

    I don’t know- there has been a lot of media attention on this case but if she is released people are not going to assume the Iranian regime is humane now.

  10. Boyo — on 10th December, 2010 at 1:22 pm  

    I’m not so sure. Ironically by this case being blown in to a cause celebre, then showing “compassion” I think this draws a certain amount of fire.

    Have you read “Shock Doctrine” btw? I’m doubtless behind the times, but I’ve found it a truly shocking expose of how totalitarian (or libertarian) states use terror to achieve their ends.

    If not one for the stocking…

  11. Kisan — on 10th December, 2010 at 1:24 pm  

    Unfortunately this story is wrong also.

    Seems like online petitions aren’t that potent after all.

    I think the Islamic Iranian regime have shown over time more commitment to Islamic law principles like stoning adulterers, killing those at war with Allah and his Prophet and killing apostates than to becoming humane by non-Muslim standards (standards which they totally reject).

  12. Rumbold — on 10th December, 2010 at 2:52 pm  

    Boyo:

    The have been so may false dans in this case though that I wonder whether Iran has exhasuted people’s patience, even if they finally release her.

    I haven’t read Shock Doctrine- will add that to the liast (I still have Tim Worstall’s new book to get through).

    Kisan:

    Eh? Yes, the Iranian regime is brutal and draws on the worst bits of Sharia law for this.

  13. Don — on 10th December, 2010 at 3:28 pm  
  14. Boyo — on 10th December, 2010 at 6:07 pm  

    pour encourager les autres then….

    i think one of the key insights of the shock doctrine was how ideology was inseparable from rights abuse, whether it be neo-conservatism or islamism or whatever.

    this is one of the interesting things so far about the book – that Klein basically says legalistic definitions of human rights may achieve the “neutrality” and “universality” but also they divorce the politics from the prison, which therefore obscures the root cause.

    The root cause of this poor lady’s abuse is Islamism, just as the torture chambers of Chile and Argentina and Iraq were built on the books of Milton Friedman.

    Wherever there is totalitarianism there is torture.

  15. RezaV — on 11th December, 2010 at 12:44 am  

    Boyo

    “Wherever there is totalitarianism there is torture.”

    Too true.

    The thing that too few people understand is that any Muslim who supports the concept of Islamic government and Islamic law is a supporter of totalitarianism.

    As such, they should not be described as ‘moderate’ by any stretch of the imagination.

    So when people speak of the “Vast Majority of Moderate Muslims” they can’t include Muslims who support the idea, even in an ‘ideal world’, of a government that operates upon sharia and a penal system that operates hudud punishments.

  16. Sarah AB — on 11th December, 2010 at 9:20 am  

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/10/iran-sakineh-mohammadi-ashtiani

    This story seems to represent a new low for Press TV

    “Human rights campaigners condemned an Iranian television programme, aired tonight, which showed Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the woman sentenced to death by stoning, at her home apparently discussing her part in the murder of her husband.

    Despite speculation that she had been released, Iran’s state news agency confirmed that Mohammadi Ashtiani remains in prison.

    Her jailed son also appeared in the programme, in which he played the role of his father in a reconstruction.

    Iran’s state-run Press TV, said it had been arranged with Iran’s judicial authorities to accompany his mother to her house to record her recounting the crime and that she had agreed to do so.

    “There are always two sides to a story and sometimes more,” said the voice of a narrator who described Mohammadi Ashtiani as a “prostitute” and “adulterous woman”.”

  17. Boyo — on 11th December, 2010 at 9:34 am  

    @15 well, Islam and its political identity are indivisible, which is what separates it from Christianity.

    However, most of us are sensible enough not to take either too literally. Indeed, there are many Turkish Muslims who strongly support the secular state and forged the relatively successful nation that is, I fear, under threat from creeping fundamentalism.

    I don’t think there are any more absolute believers in the literal truth of the Koran etc as there are in the tenets of Christianity. However, that doesn’t make people who self-describe themselves as Muslims or Christians any less likely to see (be fans even) of Mohammed or Jesus, who both had some sensible things to say.

    The truth is most fundamentalists use their ideology to compensate for some lack of power they themselves experience, whatever their creed. Absolute belief is tremendously empowering.

    I think the challenge for “moderate” Muslims, as you put it, is to forge a self-confident identity that is consistent with the modern world – many of course simply get on with their lives and do just that, others sign up to Muslims for Secular Democracy.

    However, when it comes down to it, whether by intimidation, guilt, or simply lack of charismatic leadership, it does seem that the fundamentalists – be they jihadis or even orgs like MCB or MAB (because for all their inclusive noises, they are the theological equivalents of the Papacy) get all the attention.

  18. Kisan — on 11th December, 2010 at 12:25 pm  

    #16, Iranian State run TV also called Sarkozy’s wife a prostitute after she spoke up against Irans stoning laws:

    http://www.boston.com/news/world/europe/articles/2010/08/31/iranian_media_call_sarkozys_wife_prostitute/

    This is an obnoxious hateful regime trying to run a society by barbaric Islamic laws.

    A country that can murder hundreds of its own citizens abroad:

    http://www.iran-e-azad.org/english/terrorlist.html

    and tens of thousands at home.

    An Islamic regime which has a group of thugs called basij who murder and terrorise its own population at will to support the Islamic state and its Islamic morality:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/19/world/middleeast/19iran.html

    The list of the crimes of this Islamic Republic against its own population is long and increasing by the day:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_rights_in_the_Islamic_Republic_of_Iran

  19. Kisan — on 11th December, 2010 at 1:11 pm  

    Also considering the nature of the Islamic Republic is it of any doubt why people like RezaV are unable to comment publicly showing their identities when they have to go back to Iran to visit family and pass through danger?

  20. Sunny — on 11th December, 2010 at 2:44 pm  

    Where’s Andrew Gilligan? He worked with them for ages, surely he can find out more?

  21. Arif — on 11th December, 2010 at 5:26 pm  

    Boyo #17: I’d say Islam and Politics are quite clearly divisible. Why else would Hizb-ut-Tahrir, Jamaat e Islami and all the rest spend so much energy telling other Muslims they aren’t good enough because their politics is secular? And why are you so keen on agreeing with their line on the matter?

    And even if politics and Islam are indivisible, why should it be in the ways that they claim (bearing in mind that those organisations are in constant war with each other as well as against Saudi-supported Salafis, Bin Laden-inspired organisations, Iranian-backed groups and the Taliban to name a few)? There are Islamically inspired political groups who take very different anti-totalitarian perspectives like Hizb al Jumhuri, Khudai Khidmatgar and even, why not, the Quilliam Foundation?

    Ashiani has been sentenced to death on the basis of “judge’s knowledge” despite being acquitted of murder (going by the Guardian’s report). She had already had her punishment for adultery (which may be a separate miscarriage of justice). I’d be surprised if anyone can give a justification for the death penalty now under an “Islamic law” unless she is convicted of murder. And so there is a danger of a forced confession, which itself would be contrary to justice – Islamically inspired or otherwise.

    The politics of it is central, the religious aspects are important contextually, but they should not be identified with each other – for that would be to do the propaganda work of those who want to use religion for totalitarian ends, and does Ashtiani no favours. If fighting for justice for her, or for a different system of justice in Iran, is to make someone a non-Muslim in your eyes, then that is an interpretation you are more likely to share with those Muslims you call totalitarians, not those of us you might consider opponents of the shock doctrine.

  22. Boyo — on 11th December, 2010 at 6:31 pm  

    Ah well, I don’t pretend to be a scholar, but that was my understanding of Islam – as a total system which encompasses the heavenly and human realms. Naturally there are different interpretations, which is what I discussed. Either you are mistakenly or wilfully misunderstanding me, but whatever. If I point out that Israel is not all bad, I’m a Zionist. If I mention Islam has an explicit political dimension, I’m an Islamist. ;-)

  23. Sarah AB — on 11th December, 2010 at 6:46 pm  

    “However, when it comes down to it, whether by intimidation, guilt, or simply lack of charismatic leadership, it does seem that the fundamentalists – be they jihadis or even orgs like MCB or MAB (because for all their inclusive noises, they are the theological equivalents of the Papacy) get all the attention.”

    Boyo – I think this is partly because the right/tabloids focus on Choudhary and poppy burners and the left sometimes seem to go the other way (yet in a sense it’s the same way?) and hold some of the groups you mention up as unproblematically representative of Muslims – and also seem to endorse them.

    Some people have no problem asserting (or implying) that Choudhary is typical, yet are quick to insist that BMSD or whoever are atypical.

  24. douglas clark — on 11th December, 2010 at 6:58 pm  

    Boyo,

    Join the club.

    ___________________

    However the point is not that. There will always be people who’s only perspective on the world is to look at anyone else and see an enemy. They scour the internet to find someone, anyone, they can be in opposition to.

    Our good host attracts some dreadful comment, and though I have not met him yet, I consider him an honourable man. Based on reading what he has to say, and, sometimes, the anger he expresses. It is odd to find that the anger Sunny Hundal expresses finds a resonance with me. For I am certainly not his target demographic.

    Being an old, twisted, SNP sort of person.

    I find, however that I agree with our good host far more than I disagree. Which, looking back on it, was a surprise, but is now my default position. If Sunny says something I’d expect it to be sensible, and not stupid.

    It is that default position, me assuming sense, others assuming stupidity, that explains the fault lines on this site.

    I have said, and I mean it, that if Sunny Hundal stood for parliament on a Labour ticket, and as long as he did it south of the border, down Carlisle way, then I’d work to get him elected. ‘Course I’d prefer it if he stood on an SNP ticket, but he ain’t got the history. Or the sense ;-) w

    So, the tits that sometimes come here with their overarching idea that we are not all in this together?

    Well, they can fuck off, as far as I am concerned.

  25. douglas clark — on 11th December, 2010 at 7:01 pm  

    I do not understand how my comment is becoming my name?

    It must be ridiculously annoying to anyone else reading this site….

    Feel free to delete.

  26. Arif — on 11th December, 2010 at 7:05 pm  

    Boyo, I am sorry I did not do justice to the rest of post #17 in reacting to the first sentence in it. I am not accusing you of being an Islamist, but I was pointing out that those you would call Islamists are normally defined as such because they consider their pushing their political agenda to be part of their faith.

    And additionally that the Greens are no less “Islamically inspired” than the government they are protesting against. There are degrees of totalitarianism within Islamic politics just as in secular politics. I accept that it was RezaV who made the step of denouncing the concepts of Islamic government and Islamic law as necessarily totalitarian without doing concepts of secular government and secular law the same courtesy. I maybe assumed unfairly that this interpretation of what you were getting at (in saying Islamism underlies the torture of women in Iran) didn’t trouble you. The support for Turkey’s secularists (who include militarists who have long persecuted various minorities on nationalist grounds) and fear of creeping fundamentalism as an Islamically inspired party has improved human rights for at least some minorities also worried me a bit.

    This is important to me to clarify because we need to be able to recognise and have solidarity with those struggling for justice without being hung up on broad labels like Islamist, as well as remaining critical of those who may impose injustices in the name of secular liberalism or human rights or whatever.

    Just to be absolutely clear: I don’t think you are an Islamist (democratic, totalitarian or otherwise). I don’t think you support totalitarian versions of secularism either. Just that you might mix up concern for human rights with these other things unfairly.

  27. Arif — on 11th December, 2010 at 7:26 pm  

    douglas, I am having a different struggle with the PP spam filter, but I feel your pain.

    Briefly, boyo, I also feel your pain of misrepresentation. If the spam filter lets this through, I wanted you to know I do not see you as any kind of Islamist, just that you might be a bit loose with/mixing up justice with secularism and totalitarianism with Islamism, and that such confusions won’t help us forge the solidarity needed for a better world.

  28. earwicga — on 11th December, 2010 at 7:45 pm  

    I thought you were doing it deliberately douglas! I’ve edited so your name shows up in your comments. Perhaps log out and back in?

  29. Arif — on 11th December, 2010 at 8:02 pm  

    earwicga – any idea why my comment has been caught by the spam filter?

  30. earwicga — on 11th December, 2010 at 8:06 pm  

    Sorry Arif, didn’t notice it there. Released now.

  31. Arif — on 11th December, 2010 at 8:15 pm  

    Thanks earwicga.

  32. douglas clark — on 11th December, 2010 at 8:30 pm  

    earwicga @ 28,

    You mean I was doing it to myself? Perhaps, but I have been careful to post properly and keep the rest of myself below the bedclothes :-)

    Thanks for the advice.

  33. douglas clark — on 11th December, 2010 at 8:50 pm  

    earwicga,

    Thanks. It worked exactly as you said it would.

  34. Boyo — on 11th December, 2010 at 10:10 pm  

    @27 Thanks. Well, i think we’re all on the same page. Certainly I agree with your observation about the Green movement (I seem to recall that their leader actually had a fair amount of blood on his hands from the surpression of the secular Left directly after the revolution). I also agree it is not a question of labels – any fundamentalism breeds totalitarianism (unless anyone can come up with a form that does not?). I think my sentiments are best summed up @14: Wherever there is totalitarianism there is torture.

  35. Niaz — on 13th December, 2010 at 2:43 am  

    Douglas Clark
    “However the point is not that. There will always be people who’s only perspective on the world is to look at anyone else and see an enemy. They scour the internet to find someone, anyone, they can be in opposition to.”

    Physician heal thyself

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