On the UN's Human Rights Day, observed December 10, an Iranian woman was sentenced to death by stoning in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iran is believed to have imposed death by stoning on at least 150 people, according to the International Committees against Execution and Stoning.
"Stoning," Iranian human rights activist Shabnam Assadollahi said, "is an act of torture. There are 15 countries in which stoning is either practiced and authorized by law or tolerated. One of those 15 countries is Iran. The last known execution by stoning was in 2009. In Iran under the Islamic law, stonings, hangings, and executions are legal torture.
"In Islam under Sharia law, the stoning (Rajm) is commonly used as a form of capital punishment, called Hudud," Assadollahi explained.
"Under the Islamic Law, it is the ordained penalty in cases of adultery committed by a married man or married woman with others who are not her/his legal partner. Stoning is carried out by a crowd of Muslims who follow the Sharia law by throwing stones (small and large) at a convicted person until she or he is killed. The international community must pressure Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, Pakistan, and other countries where stoning is legally carried or tolerated. Why cannot the public loudly cry out and advocate for women oppressed by those regimes?"
Instead of cries of outrage, the West, in the wake of the nuclear "deal" Iran has not even signed, has been scrambling to ingratiate itself with the Iranian regime. Countries such as France, Germany, Austria and Switzerland have barely been able to contain themselves at the prospect of doing business with them. It has been years since the Europeans could legally engage in trade with the murderous regime of the mullahs, who still cry, "Death to Israel, Death to America" -- the "Little Satan" and the "Great Satan' -- and they have not been wasting time.
In fact, the P5+1 negotiators (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) had just finished signing the "deal" with themselves, when Germany's Vice Chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, hurried himself and a group of representatives from German companies and industry groups onto a plane for a visit to Iran.
The French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, who usually knows better, likewise, found it "... completely normal that after this historic deal was signed, France and Iran should restart normal relations."
Before the sanctions took effect in 2011, French companies such as Renault and Peugeot were making billions of euros from their involvement with Iran's auto industry. Similarly, the French company Total was heavily involved in the oil sector. France was evidently not going to miss a beat in bringing this lucrative trade back to la République.
How ironic that the country of "liberté, egalité and fraternité" finds it "completely normal" to have normal diplomatic and trade relations with a country that treats its own citizens, especially women, worse than the mud under the mullah's feet; that executes whoever disagrees with the regime, and that hangs homosexuals from cranes. How ironic that Europeans have no problem stuffing themselves with syrupy Iranian dates exported by this smiling regime, knowing full well that there are thousands of Iranian prisoners being tortured in Iranian prisons while awaiting their execution day.
Iranian authorities are believed to have executed 694 people between January 1 and July 15, 2015 -- an average of three executions a day. Since the election of the "moderate" President Hassan Rouhani in 2013, the number of executions has markedly gone up. According to a July 2015 Amnesty International report:
"Death sentences in Iran are particularly disturbing because they are invariably imposed by courts that are completely lacking in independence and impartiality. They are imposed either for vaguely worded or overly broad offences, or for acts that should not be criminalized at all, let alone attract the death penalty. Trials in Iran are deeply flawed, detainees are often denied access to lawyers in the investigative stage, and there are inadequate procedures for appeal, pardon and commutation."
The report goes on to state that the majority of those put to death in 2015 were people from disadvantaged backgrounds, who were convicted on drug charges. "This is in direct breach of international law, which restricts the use of the death penalty to only the 'most serious crimes' – those involving intentional killing. Drug-related offences do not meet this threshold."
Among those executed in Iran this year are members of ethnic and religious minorities convicted of "enmity against God" and "corruption on earth." These include Kurdish political prisoners and Sunni Muslims. On August 26, 2015, Behrouz Alkhani, a 30-year-old man from Iran's Kurdish minority, was executed despite awaiting the outcome of a Supreme Court appeal.
Iran is the second most prolific executioner in the world after China, according to Amnesty International's latest global death penalty report.
Iran also tops the global list statistically for executioners of juvenile offenders, even though it is a state party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which prohibit the imposition of the death penalty against persons who were below 18 years of age at the time of the crime, without exception. (Of course Iran was also a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which it also violated repeatedly.) Iran continues to impose the death penalty against juvenile offenders, frequently deferring the execution until after they pass the age of 18. In 2015, at least four juvenile offenders are believed to have been executed: Javad Saberi, Vazir Amroddin, Samad Zahabi and Fatemeh Salbehi.
Iran is scheduled to be reviewed by the Committee on the Rights of the Child on January 11-12, 2016. The Committee has already expressed deep concerns about the use of death penalty against juvenile offenders and asked Iran to provide information on the progress and outcome of the cases of juvenile offenders undergoing re-trial.
Despite all the atrocities that Iran commits towards its citizens, women hold a special place of denigration and humiliation in Iranian society. Young women are reported brutally arrested by the thousand every week for not wearing a "proper hijab." A woman in Iran is de facto first her father's property, then after marriage, her husband's property. According to the UN Secretary General's February 2015 Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran, child marriage is prevalent. The legal age of marriage for girls is 13; some as young as 9 may be married by permission of the court. In 2011, about 48,580 girls between the age of 10 and 14 were married; in 2012, there were at least 1,537 girls under the age of 10 who were reportedly married. Pedophilia is thereby widespread and legal.
Married women may not work, attend sporting events or leave the country without their husband's permission. When arrested, they suffer unspeakable torture in prison. Rape is commonly used as torture in prison against both women and men.
Forced "virginity testing" is also commonly used in prison, a serious violation of international law. It violates women's and girls' human rights to physical integrity, dignity, privacy and right to be free from torture and cruel and inhuman and degrading treatment. According to Amnesty International, satirical cartoonist Atena Farghadani, held in prison since January 2015, was sentenced in June 2015 to twelve years and nine months in prison for her peaceful activism, including meeting with families of political prisoners, and for drawing a satirical cartoon depicting legislators as monkeys, cows, and other animals. The cartoon was to protest a bill that sought to criminalize voluntary sterilization and restrict access to contraception and family planning services.
In December 2014, when Farghadani was out on bail, she released a video message on YouTube, detailing how female prison guards at Evin prison had beaten her, verbally abused her and forced her to strip naked for body searches. She was rearrested in January 2015, and in the fall of 2015 she was forced to undergo a "virginity and pregnancy test" prior to her trial. The charge? "Illegitimate sexual relations" for having shaken hands with her lawyer.
Iran nevertheless won a top seat on the U.N.'s Commission on the Status of Women in April 2014. Not a single UN member, not even the US, objected, to that election.
An exhaustive account of the atrocities that the Iranian regime continues to commit against its own people would require volumes. Nevertheless, the West, seems to remain unfazed in furthering its lucrative relations with the murderous regime.
Those politicians and executives scrambling to do business with the mullahs should realize that Iran's intercontinental ballistic missiles can tomorrow be aimed at them. Those who comfort themselves with the thought that Iran only wants to annihilate Israel might do well to think again. Iran has tested a two-stage solid-fuel missile, the Sejjil-2, with a range of more than 2,000 km, allowing it to target southeastern Europe. In addition, Iran recently unveiled the Soumar cruise missile, reportedly a reverse-engineered version of the Russia's Raduga Kh-55 -- which was designed as a nuclear delivery system. It has a claimed range of 2,500-3,000 km.
Nevertheless, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has acceded to Iran's demands to close its 12-year investigation into whether Iran had a secret nuclear weapons program. The IAEA produced a report earlier this month that strongly suggested Iran did have a nuclear weapons program for the years up until 2003.
The West clearly not only fails to care about the plight of the Iranians -- it does not even care about its own populations being within Iranian missile range.
Judith Bergman is a writer, columnist, lawyer and political analyst.