Iran: A Statement of Concern Regarding the Televised ‘Confession’ by Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani

The Global Campaign to Stop Killing and Stoning Women and the Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) International Solidarity Network deplore the staging of a ‘public confession’ on Iranian television by Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, who is awaiting execution in Iran by stoning for adultery.

The ‘confession’, done in an interview format, was broadcast on Wednesday 11th August on the '20:30' television program by Seda va Sima, the government broadcasting station. The ‘confession’, showed Sakineh implicating herself in the murder of her husband. However, as we have noted, Sakineh speaks Azeri (a Turkic language) but the interviewer narrated and spoke in Farsi drowning out Sakineh’s voice in her own language.

This ‘confession’ comes at a time when the judicial authorities are due to consider, at her lawyer’s request, a judicial review of her case. This ‘confession’ seems to indicate that, due to a lack of evidence against Sakineh, the Iranian authorities plan to bring new charges against Sakineh. According to Amnesty International, forced ‘confessions’ and self-incriminating statements made by detainees have become part of Iran’s methods of incriminating individuals in custody. Many have later retracted these ‘confessions’, stating that they were coerced into making them, sometimes under torture or other ill-treatment.

We are calling upon the Iranian judicial authorities to maintain their independence and to disregard this latest ‘confession’ when reviewing her case. We urge them to uphold the ruling that prohibits double jeopardy in Iran and to, therefore, consider the fact that she had already received her sentence of 99 lashes. On this basis, Sakineh’s case warrants an urgent pardon. We call upon the Judiciary to release her from prison so that she can start a new life with her children.

The Global Campaign to Stop Killing and Stoning Women opposes all forms of cruel and degrading punishment, especially those that are justified in the name of religion, tradition, and/or culture. The freedom of belief does not mean freedom to kill.