AP: Germany, the European Union and a major human rights group slammed Iran on Wednesday for its plans to stone a woman convicted of adultery, increasing the global pressure on Tehran over a case it has tried to present as a criminal matter and not one of human rights.
The Associated Press
By RAF CASERT
BRUSSELS (AP) — Germany, the European Union and a major human rights group slammed Iran on Wednesday for its plans to stone a woman convicted of adultery, increasing the global pressure on Tehran over a case it has tried to present as a criminal matter and not one of human rights.
The case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani , a 43-year-old mother of two, has cast a harsh light on Iran’s version of Islamic justice and taken multiple twists. Iran appears to have put the stoning on hold for now but has also indicated Ashtiani could be hanged for her conviction of playing a role in her husband’s 2005 murder.
Even as Iran insists the case is a matter for its own courts and society, the global outcry has grown.
On Wednesday, the European Union Parliament in Strasbourg, France, passed a resolution condemning Tehran, a move that comes on the heels of EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso calling stoning “barbaric.” The vote passed by a huge 658-to-1 margin with 22 abstentions. The vote against was an error and would be amended in the parliamentary records later.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle released a statement saying he is “deeply worried for Ms. Ashtiani’s life.”
“Iran has to respect human rights, especially because it committed to do so under international law,” Westerwelle said. It is “not a question of religion, but a question of fundamental human dignity.”
The sentiments were echoed by the 47-nation Council of Europe, the continent’s biggest human rights organization. It called on the Islamic republic’s parliamentary speaker, Ali Larijani, to do his utmost to fully repeal the sentence.
“This inhuman sentence and the mistreatment that Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani is suffering cast a tragic shadow on your country,” wrote Mevlut Cavusoglu, President of the Council’s Parliamentary Assembly.
On Iran’s state-run Press TV, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast repeated previous statements that plans to carry out the stoning have been “stopped” while judiciary officials also study the punishment for Ashtiani’s conviction of playing on role in her husband’s 2005 murder.
Ashtiani’s lawyer, Houtan Javid Kian, told The Associated Press there has been no change in her case and the stoning sentence was suspended but not officially canceled.
Some Western officials, including Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, have said they don’t believe Iran will carry out the stoning following the international outcry. But Iran has at times struck a defiant tone during the saga. Mehmanparast accused the United States and other Western countries of trying to “exploit” the case and turn it into a “political charade.”
“Our country has been under a lot of political pressure by the U.S. and other Western countries over its nuclear work,” he noted.
The European Parliament, however, insisted universal human rights were what was at stake.
In its resolution, it said that “a sentence of death by stoning can never be justified.”
Associated Press Writers Nasser Karimi in Tehran and Juergen Baetz in Berlin contributed to the story.