Outcry as Iranian mother faces possible execution tomorrow

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani

A 43-year-old Iranian mother of two, who was sentenced to death by stoning earlier this year for 'adultery', may be hanged tomorrow, the British Foreign Office has learnt. Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani,  has been held on death row in Tabriz Prison, north-west Iran since 2007. Following international protests, in July the Iranian embassy in London announced that she would not be stoned to death.

Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt MP said today: "I am deeply disturbed by suggestions that Sakineh Ashtiani could be executed imminently. The British Government has been following her case closely. We have repeatedly called for a stay of execution and a fair and transparent review of her sentence - any move to execute her would be utterly unacceptable and would be condemned widely and in the strongest terms. The world watches and waits"

The death penalty has been abolished in 137 countries around the world. Argentina, Chile, and Uzbekistan outlawed the death penalty in 2008.  During 2007, 24 countries, 88% in China, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United States alone, executed 1,252 people compared to 1,591 in 2006. Nearly 3,350 people were sentenced to death in 51 countries. More than 20,000 prisoners are on death row across the world.

Catholic bishops in the United States, where 37 states still use capital punishment, have been calling for an end to the use of the death penalty for more than 25 years. In 2005, they invited Catholics to join them in an ongoing 'Catholic Campaign to End the Use of the Death Penalty.'   They said:   "Ending the death penalty would be one important step away from a culture of death and toward building a culture of life.”

Human rights groups around the world are appealing for Sakineh's life to be spared.  Avaaz have set up a petition urging the Iranian authorities not to execute Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani by any method. To add your name see: www.avaaz.org/en/24h_to_save_sakineh/98.php?CLICKTF

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