A televised confession by Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani heightens the already grave concern that Iran will soon execute the 43-year-old woman, Human Rights Watch said today.
Ashtiani, initially sentenced to death by stoning after being convicted in 2006 of adultery, told state-run television on August 11, 2010, that she participated in the murder of her husband. Iranian officials have repeatedly suggested over the past several weeks, in response to the international outcry over the stoning sentence, that Ashtiani murdered her husband.
“The men who run Iran apparently have no shame at all, first pronouncing the barbaric sentence of death by stoning and then resorting to a televised confession,” said Nadya Khalife, Middle East women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Under the circumstances there is every reason to believe that this so-called confession was coerced.”
During the televised interview, Ashtiani’s face was blurred and her words were voiced over with translations from her mother tongue, Azeri, into Farsi. In the broadcast Ashtiani also criticized her previous lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaei, who sought refuge in Norway after Iranian security forces threatened him and his family, accusing him of publicizing her case so he could gain asylum abroad.