Save Malak Ghorbany from Death by Public Stoning

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    The Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan,The United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights, Louise Arbour,The Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ayatollah Khamenei, and The Head of the Judiciary of IRI Ayatollah Shahroudi
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CC: U.S. President, EU Heads of States, Heads of the worldвs democratic states, General Secretary of the United Nations, The United Nation Commission for Human Rights Special Rapporteur, U.S. Secretay of State, U.S. Congress, Senator Brownback, the European Parliament, Amnesty International, International Journalism Group

On or about June 29, 2006, a court in the northwestern Iranian city of Urmia sentenced Malak Ghorbany, an Iranian woman, to death by public stoning after finding her guilty of the crime of вadultery.в Under Iran's Penal Code, the term "adultery" is used to describe any intimate or sexual act between a man and a girl or a woman outside of marriage. The crime of adultery is also used in cases where a girl is deemed to have committed "acts incompatible with chastity," which includes instances of rape. In Iran, the punishment for "adultery" is death. In Ms. Ghorbanyвs case, the particular method of execution mandated в death by stoning -- is one of the most inhumane and gruesome acts of torture and violence.

On the day of her punishment, the Ms. Ghorbanyвs hands will be tied behind her back as she becomes covered from head to toe in winding sheets and is placed seated in a pit. The pit is then filled up to her chest with dirt and the dirt is tamped down. At that point, members of the community are invited to murder her by hurling rocks at her. To ensure that the person condemned to stoning receives the absolute maximum amount of pain and torture, the Iranian government has even mandated the size of the stones that are to be used in this barbaric act of public execution. By law, no stone should be thrown that would kill Ms. Ghorbany with the first or second blow, or so small as a pebble to do no injury to her body.

Stoning is a unique form of punishment in that there is no single executioner. The simplistic act of gathering the victimвs peers around her creates killers out of everyone. Those who participate in the mass murder of another by throwing stones at her view the practice as a social event that is more akin to a form of sport than a true act of moral self-righteousness. An actual video of a stoning can be viewed at http://www.iran-e-azad.org/stoning/. The footage taken in Iran illustrates a party like atmosphere of those carrying out the execution.

Clearly, stoning is a diabolical form of torture and murder and it must be stopped. That humans should gather around and jubilantly throw stones with the intent to take another humanвs life -- in this case, the life of Ms. Ghorbany -- is a repugnant thought. Such acts of barbarism and violence far outweigh any form of moral transgression that Ms. Ghorbany may have committed. Further, the cruelty and inhumanity of Ms. Ghorbanyвs death sentence is a violation of her human rights under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Iran is a party.

With regard to the above, we, the undersigned, request your urgent help to prevent the inhumane torture and punishment to which Ms. Ghorbany has been sentenced. As such,

В We request that the death sentence imposed on Ms. Ghorbany be commuted immediately;

В We urge the authorities to conduct a thorough examination of Ms. Ghorbanyвs case to ensure that she received a fair trial and that her legal representation was competent and adequate throughout the proceedings;

В We urge that the authorities ensure that Ms. Ghorbanyвs family is made aware of its legal rights in accordance with Islamic and International rules and covenants;

В We appeal to the Islamic Republic of Iran to honor its commitment to the ICCPR, to which it is a signatory.