AFP: Canada’s First Lady Maureen Harper on Wednesday condemned Iran’s “senseless and continual” disregard for women’s rights and called for the release of a woman sentenced to death.
OTTAWA, November 3, 2010 (AFP) – Canada’s First Lady Maureen Harper on Wednesday condemned Iran’s “senseless and continual” disregard for women’s rights and called for the release of a woman sentenced to death.
“We are deeply troubled by the flagrant disregard of women’s rights in Iran,” Harper said in an open letter.
“In particular, the most recent and public case of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani is an affront to any sense of moral or human decency and is symbolic of the plight of Iranian women.”
In the letter, also signed by Indigo bookstore chain owner Heather Reisman, Harper expressed “grave concern” over what she described as “unfair, undue legal processes faced by women in Iran” and “repugnant sentences, such as death by stoning.”
Addressing Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad directly, the wife of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper wrote: “We urge you to take a progressive step towards improving the lives of Iranian women, mothers, daughters and sisters by unconditionally releasing Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani.
“Certainly, this would be welcomed by women around the world as seen as a deeply symbolic gesture toward the betterment of all Iranian women.
Mohammadi-Ashtiani was sentenced to death by two different courts in the northwestern Iranian city of Tabriz in separate trials in 2006.
The first death sentence, by hanging, for her involvement in the murder of her husband, was commuted to a 10-year jail term by an appeals court in 2007.
But the second, by stoning, was on a charge of adultery leveled over several relationships, notably with the man convicted of her husband’s murder, and was upheld by another appeals court the same year.
Exiled Iranian human rights activist Mina Ahadi triggered a new outcry in the West after voicing fears that Mohammadi-Ashtiani could be executed as early as Wednesday — which Tehran denied.