Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the 43 year old mother of two,who awaits the death penalty by stoning (or possibly hanging) in Iran on adultery charges based on not a shred of evidence, is reportedly is being beaten by the guards inside Tabriz prison ever since the Sharia court declared the verdict.
Since May 2006, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani has been kept in Room 4of the eighth block of Tabriz prison, in the capital of Iran's East Azerbaijan province. She shares a room with 25 women who are mostly accused of murder. She was originally sentenced to 99 lashes for adultery, which she received; but her case was reopened when a court in Tabriz suspected her of murdering her husband. She was acquitted, but the adultery charge was reviewed and the death penalty handed down on the basis of "judge's knowledge." In Iran, officials consider adultery worse than murder. In adultery cases, women are sentenced because of the complaints from their husbands or families generally, but surprisingly, Sakineh was sentenced to death by stoning not because the family of her husband made a complaint against her, but because the Tabriz prosecutor made a complaint. In other words, it is the authorities in Iran who want Sakineh to be stoned to death.
It is anticipated that Iranian regime might execute the death penalty of Sakineh at any time to avoid further international outcry on this issue. Meanwhile, the Iranian regime has issued a warrant for the arrest of Mohammad Mostafaei, the lawyer of Sakineh. Family members of Mostafaei have reportedly been captured by the regime -- his wife Fareshteh Halimi and brother-in-law Farhad Halimi -- to put pressure on him to stay away from the case of Sakineh.
Mostafei's wife, Fareshteh Halimi and her brother Farhad Halimi, are being held inside Iran's infamous Evin prison. Prison guards are apparently regularly harassing them; and family members have been warned by the regime that if Mostafei will not show up, his wife will be raped and tortured.
Mohammad Mostafaei wrote on his blog on July 23, 2010: "Today I was again contacted after being interrogated; I was summoned through a telephone call. I don't know what the problem is this time. At any rate, tomorrow I have to go to the Evin prosecutor's office. Maybe they will arrest me, I don't know."
Mostafaei played an important role in bringing attention to Sakineh's case. He gave several interviews,and reportedly also helped Ashtiani's two children in their campaign to save their mother's life.
Iranian state television reported on July 25 that the prosecution and sentencing of Ashtiani, whose full name was not disclosed for legal reasons, gave "a pretext for the opposition of the Islamic republic to hold anti-Iranian rallies" in several Western countries. "U.S. and Israeli television channels," it reported, have made "a fuss" over Iranian failures to observe human rights."
Shadi Sadr, a well-known women's rights advocate who was forced to leave Iran several months ago, says she believes the regime is reacting to the "international sensitivity" by placing pressure on Mostafaei.
Sadr, who has worked with Mostafaei on behalf of women sentenced to execution by stoning in the Islamic republic, says the reaction embodies the plight of human rights advocates in Iran in general.
She says that Mostafaei "worked within the framework of the laws of the Islamic republic; he never crossed the red lines set by the Islamic republic. This case just shows the increasing pressure on human rights activists and how red lines and limitations are becoming every day tighter and tighter."
Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner and lawyer Shirin Ebadi has faced similar tactics -- her sister and husband were reportedly arrested in Iran last year because of her human rights activities and her condemnation of the crackdown that followed Iran's 2009 presidential election.
She says Mostafaei's only crime is his defense of human rights. "Mostafaei believes punishments such as stoning are unjust," Ebadi says. "He believes it is wrong to execute individuals under the age of 18 and [Iran] needs to review its laws. That is his only sin."
Ebadi, who lives in exile abroad, says she hopes Mostafaei takes a stand against the "illegal move" by Iranian officials. "I hope he stands firm and tells everyone that his wife is a hostage, but refuses to give in to the demands of the hostage takers," she says.
While the entire world is concerned about the fate of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, I hear how the Sharia law is continuing to repress people of all walks of life, including girl children in that country. According to an official there,, nearly a million Iranian children are married due to provisions in Iran's Islamic marriage laws which allow the existence of child-wives.
"Official sources put the number of child spouses in the country at between 900,000 to 950,000. This violates the international Convention on the Rights of the Child", Mohammad Bonyazadeh, a member of the Cultural Association in Support of Working Children, told the semi-official news agency ILNA on Thursday.
Children as young as 15 can legally go into full-time employment in Iran, Bonyazadeh said. "On the one hand the law recognizes anyone under the age of 11 as a child, who lacks the thinking capacity, wisdom, and decision-making ability to vote in an election, but on the other hand it defines the legal age for marriage as 9 [for girls] and 13 [for boys]", he said, adding that the legal age for voting in Iran is in line with international standards.
"Unfortunately, instead of enjoying their youth, playing sports and getting some education, the country's young girls who are married, are forced to play the role of a wife and accept all its difficult responsibilities, such as running household chores. This dangerous experience forced upon the children at this age has many dire and harmful repercussions on them and even on their children".
As per the Marriage Law passed by the Ayatollah Khomeini, men are allowed to sodomized these children right after the marriage.