This Monday, as in previous years, there are expected to be worldwide protests against the sentence of stoning decreed against Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani in Iran.
She has been accused of murdering her husband without a shred of evidence, and the case has never been proved in court. She has been sentenced to be stoned for adultery purely on the “special knowledge” of a judge.
Her execution has been held off only because of the weight of international pressure. She has had confessions extracted from her on television. She awaits a decision on her sentence. In the meantime, she remains in prison.
Her lawyer, for no crime other than daring to defend her, also is in prison under a four-year sentence.
Although the focus of the International Day against Stoning is on Iran and one particular woman victim of atrocious injustice, the events are intended to draw attention to the continuing presence in the world of this most barbaric and cruel form of state sponsored public murder.
All forms of capital punishment are unjust, barbaric and cruel. They have no part in modern society. Stoning, however, is particularly discriminatory.
The evidence required against a man is far less than that against a woman. Women complaining of rape have to produce four male witnesses or eight female witnesses to the actual penetration. Her accusation, however, is a confession, an admission that sexual congress occurred outside marriage. Enough to convict her.
The province of Aceh unconstitutionally tried to introduce stoning. As more and more local governments ignore the central authority and introduce their own brand of sharia, sooner or later the issue of stoning elsewhere in Indonesia is bound to arise.
Stoning is carried out in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Somalia.
It is time that we said an unequivocal no to any attempt to introduce stoning into any part of the Republic of Indonesia and use our influence with other Islamic countries to eliminate this practice once and for all.
Bogor, West Java