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

  • Friends/Colleagues,

    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.

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