Free Mariam Ghorbanzadeh & Azar Bagheri!

Mariam Ghorbanzadeh, 25, who was six months' pregnant and miscarried after being beaten up in Tabriz prison this week (Aug 12, 2010), was initially sentenced to death by stoning for adultery but her sentence has been commuted to hanging in a rapid judicial review. The decision is thought to have been driven by the Iranian authorities' desire to avoid further international condemnation over the barbaric punishment.

According to Iranian law, officials could not carry out her sentence while she was pregnant. Speaking to the Guardian, her lawyer, Houtan Kian, who represents Mohammadi Ashtiani and two other women kept in Tabriz prison convicted of adultery, said: "My fear is that Iran executes Mariam and those others whose cases have not attracted media attention."

Another of Kian's clients, Azar Bagheri, 19, was imprisoned at the age of 15 after her husband accused her of having an extramarital relationship. Bagheri was on death row for adultery but her sentence was commuted to 100 lashes after Mohammadi Ashtiani's story came to light. Although Bagheri's death penalty was handed down four years ago, the sentence could not be carried out until she was 18 years of old.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/aug/12/iran-stoning-sentences-commuted-ashtiani

We the undersigned are aware of the unjust treatment and imminent execution sentences of Mariam Ghorbanzadeh, age 25 and Azar Bagheri, age 19. WE CALL FOR the IMMEDIATE RELEASE of both women.

Mariam Ghorbanzadeh, 25, who was six months' pregnant and miscarried after being beaten up in Tabriz prison this week (Aug 12th, 2010), was initially sentenced to death by stoning for adultery but her sentence has been commuted to hanging in a rapid judicial review. The decision is thought to have been driven by the Iranian authorities' desire to avoid further international condemnation over the barbaric punishment. According to Iranian law, Ms. Ghorbanzadeh could not be executed, so you saw fit to get around that law by beating her so severely, you killed her innocent unborn child. 

As for Azar Bagheri, she was imprisoned at the age of 15 after her husband accused her of having an extramarital relationship. Bagheri was on death row for adultery but her sentence was commuted to 100 lashes after Mohammadi Ashtiani's story came to light. Although Bagheri's death penalty was handed down four years ago, the sentence could not be carried out until she was 18 years of old.

We find these practices and actions abhorent and barbaric. We call for the elimination of stoning as a practice in Iran, as well as an end to executing people, especially women who are accused of adulter. This is a practice which violates any and all definitions of human rights.

We call for the elimination of other forms of the death penalty or flogging or imprisonment for those convicted of %u201Cadultery%u201D.

In as much as Iran is a signatory to the International Declaration of Human Rights and related Conventions, we call upon Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the leaders of Iran to take responsibility for their commitments and intervene to free this woman who is being unjustly punished, as well as other women currently condemned to die by stoning for adultery.

No matter what the differences are in religious or political beliefs, Iran must participate, along with all other nations, in creating a world where basic human rights and fundamental humanity prevail.

Stoning is barbaric.... And it must be stopped.
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