Sakineh Ashtiani


For the life of Sakineh Ashtiani. Photo: jikatu,

Though I’ve never wanted to force my imagination to such an act of masochism, at times I’ve asked myself this: What would I do if I’d been born in Iran, or Afghanistan, or Turkey or any other of culture so different from that of Cuba.  But today I’m thinking what would my life had been like if I —as a woman (disregarding other sexual and social categories)— were Iranian.

Thanks to the Internet, which I’ve had access to for a few days, I’ve been able to learn more about a particular Iranian woman: one of Iran’s 24 convicts (18 are women) who are waiting to be stoned.

The first thing that my caught my attention is that I can’t find her name on any website produced in Cuba.  When the news media in my country speaks of Iran, they refer to some economic agreement or of the good relations between the two countries, and of course to the “dignity” of President Ahmadinejad, who appears determined to demonstrate that his country is also entitled to abuse the environment and put the health of people at risk, meaning that Iran too is entitled to enrich uranium.

But there’s nothing mentioned about the misuse of Sharia law, and I’m told much less about how this state has returned to applying the death penalty by stoning, which had declined under the previous government.

Therefore, if I’m not aware of it, it’s impossible for me, a Cuban woman, to demand the end of these murders (I’m against any death penalty, regardless of the method or rationale).  It’s impossible for me to add my signature to the thousands of citizens around the world who have called to spare the life of Sakineh (an Azeri from Iranian Azerbaijan who barely speaks Persian, the language of those who convicted her of adultery).

Respect for different cultures and religions has nothing to do with the silence in the face of this class of cruelty.  Many Muslim clerics insist that “no correlation exist between lapidation [stoning] and Islamic values.”  Brazil’s new president-elect has already spoken out —as has Lula— against this type of act.

What has my country done?  And if they’ve done anything like Brazil, why aren’t we informed of it?

Everything is a question of politics and power.  Sakineh had the terrible luck of having been born in a country where, in her own words, “one can do whatever they want to women.”

Editors NOTE: Due to pressures from the international community, Iranian officials have reportedly stayed the execution (previously scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 3).  However, there has been no definite answer as to whether Iran will pursue the execution in the future, as Sakineh has been on death row since 2006.



Caridad: If I had the chance to choose what my next life would be like, I’d like to be water. If I had the chance to eliminate a worst aspect of the world I would erase fear. Of all the human feelings I most like I prefer friendship. I was born in the year of the first Congress of the Cuban Communist Party, the day that Gay Pride is celebrated around the world. I no longer live on the east side of Havana; I’m trying to make a go of it in Caracas, and I continue to defend my right to do what I want and not what society expects of me.

11 thoughts on “Sakineh Ashtiani

  • November 6, 2010 at 4:43 pm


    I am so delighted that this subject is being published on and the response it has received from the readership.

    All my life I have been supporting human rights causes and I am a great believer in Amnesty International, which still is illegal in Cuba for which there is absolutely no excuse.

  • November 6, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    The death penalty, which is in urgent need of abolishing everywhere including Cuba, where in 2003 unnecessary blood was shed by the execution of three young black men who did not shed any blood themselves.

    We read a fair deal about Venezuela on President Hugo Chávez on a recent visit to Iran joined Ahmedinejad in talking of a new world order. If stonings and hangings are part of the socialism of the 21st century, then I turn my face in disgust. Where is Cuba, protesting? Whenever I had a chance meeting Cuban official speakers I have asked them what their country is doing in support of the Iranian workers, there answer is a big nothing. Is it because Iran has recently increased Cuba’s credit limit?

  • November 6, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    When will the case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtianie ever be publsihed in the Cuban media, so that Cubans can have a say whether their country should continue with a government to government friendship that reminds me of the stupidity of the 1930s when Communists pretended that Anglo-American capitalism was worse than Nazism?

    The Cuban ambassador was a guest at the British TUC conference. Why was he not challenged?

    As for myself I will be going to a vigil tonight to try and save the life of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani!

  • November 6, 2010 at 9:12 am

    The syariah law needs to bu fully abolished and the people who uphold it are the ones doing so for the power to swing into their hands. People like Ahmedinejad are the real murderers and the real criminals. They are the ones who loudly claim it is the law of GOD and that bloody Muhammad, needs to be spat upon. I have no problems with Muslims as as they are people, but I have a problem with the principles of Islam and the teachings of Muhammad as dictated by the Koran.

    Syariah law is based on Islam and I hope to see the courts fall, in favour of the rights of people. I know Iranians are nice people. They are people regardless of the religion or regime. Many of them abhor honor killings and killings of any sort, being human beings.

    It is the ones in power, who choose to keeps things the way they are, so as to prevent their citizens usurping their positions of authority and to further their own political agendas.

    People like Ahmedinejad, loudly claim they are following the laws of GOD, but they are the thirstiest for blood and the hungriest for power and they are the loudest of criminals against GOD.

  • November 5, 2010 at 11:06 pm

    Thank you for this. As an Englishwoman I am aware that not everyone has the luxury of being allowed to participate in the protests.

    I can assure you that I have done so, and will in future think of you as well when I do anything similar.

  • November 5, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    Here’s the list of numbers numbers (international codes and alternative numbers in brackets):

    Australia (+61) 02 62907000 (ext.9)
    Austria: (+43) (0)1 712 2650
    Belgium:(+32) 02 762 3745 (2 762 3771)
    Brazil: (61) 3242-5733 (3242-5124 / 3242-5874)
    Canada: (613) 235 4726, 613 233-4726
    Denmark: (+45) 3916 0071
    Finland: (+358) 9 6845391
    France: 01- 4069 7900 (4069 7971/ 4069 7914 / 4069 7916 / 4069 7966)
    Germany: (+49) (0)30 84353399
    Greece: (+30) 210 674 1436
    India: (+91) 11- 332 9600 (332 9601 / 332 9602 / 332 0491)
    Ireland: (+353) 1 288 5881 (288 0252 / 288 2967)
    Italy: (+39) 06 863 28485 (8632 8486)
    Japan: (+81) 3-3446-8011
    Mexico: (+52) 55 – 91722691 / 91722672 / 91722699
    New Zealand: (+64) 4 386 2976
    Norway:(+47) 23 27 29 60
    Portugal: (+ 351) 213 041 850
    South Africa: (+27) 12 342 5881
    Spain: (+ 34) 91 345 01 12 (91 345 0116 / 91 345 0652)
    Sweden: (+46) (8) 636 3600 (765 0829 / 765 3174 / 767 7929)
    Switzerland: (+41) (0)31 351 0801 (351 0802)
    Turkey: (+90) 312- 468 2821
    UK: call the UK embassy in Iran (+ 98) 2164 052 267 — or — fax the Iranian embassy in the UK (+ 44) (20) 7589 4440
    USA: (+1) (202) 965-4990

  • November 5, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    Call the Iranian embassy.

  • November 5, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    And thank you too, Jerry. Wish too see you again in Iran!!

  • November 5, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    What can we do?
    Sign petitions and protest, that’s it…:(

  • November 5, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    I am delighted to read Yorkanda’s excellent and heart-felt article on the tragic circumstances being faced by Mrs. Sakineh Ashtiani. I lived in Iran for more than five years and can say, with confidence, that the values of the average Iranian on the street are not reflected by the cruel and inhumane policies of this present regime.
    Money ans self-interest drive the diplomatic train, and this is unfortunate. I wish voices such as Yorkanda’s and Bernhard’s could be heard as loudly and widely as thgose who control the world media.
    I pray for this innocent lady, Sakineh, that justice will not only be done to her, but to those who perpetrate crimes of torture and inhumanity upon the least powerful among us. On the walls of the Summer Palace of King Darius in Persepolis are graven, in Mesopotamian cunieform wedge writing, the following lines: “Behold, I am Darius, the great king. All these lands have I conquered. And I have set at liberty those who were in bondage. I made the strong not to strike the weaker, and I lifted their unbecoming yoke.” I wish Iran were as compassionate in this day as 500 years before Christ.

  • November 5, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    I live in Germany and I simpathize a lot with countries were there is an intent of creating good and more or less equal conditions of life for everyone and not only for the most agressive and competitive and toughest or opportunistic of its members. In my opinion the 2 countries in the world I would like the least to live in is stalinist North Korea and maybe this so called teocrathy of Iran. Recently I read, that Iran is second to China in executions in absolute numbers. Considering that in China there are living around 1500 millions and in Iran less than 80 millions, Iran seems to be the top killer state in the world. Its head of state Ahmadinejad denies in public, that the german genozide to the Jews is reality, he really gives me a creepy feeling and I get some problems with my simpathies with leaders like Evo Morales, or Lula from Brazil and maybe the Cuban leaders too and their good relations with this regime. These hard as stone men I would really like to disappear I don´t think any good can come from that…..A dream come to true for me would be seeing them removed from power and Sakineh removed from jail and given their power. I believe Iran would become a better place.

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