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Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Call To Conscience: Spare Sakine From Stoning!

"170 people were sentenced to death  including young people and children, and 18 others, men and women for being gay. Two other women also await death by stoning including a 15-year old girl and a 25-year old pregnant woman."

The collective world may not know about her, but this poor soul along with countless others are awaiting their fate - effectively a gruesome death at the hands of the merciless government of Iran. Stoning  no less, is the manner by which these human beings have been and will be subjected to, at the behest of their government, for their being 'sinful' in an otherwise 'blameless' society of religiously devout Muslims. Why this topic? Unsavory it may seem, but as a human being bestowed with the gift of life, it is my obligation, my duty, in my own way, to condemn this country's barbaric judicial system that knows no mercy in the name of religion and chastity.

Today and infinitely,  I join the conscious and conscientious world in a global protest against the imminent stoning of a 43-year old  mother of two in Iran who is accused of having an illicit relationship. Saturday July 24 marks the International Sakine Mohamadi Ashtiani Day, a day of public protests and demonstrations around the world against the impending stoning of Sakine Mohamadi Ashtiani. She has been languishing in jail for five years now and has already received a total of 99 lashes, and with no civil complainant coming forward against her.

Sajjad, her 22-year old son raised the alarm of her imminent stoning because according to him, there is no more further legal recourse to save her mother, at this point in time. My senses just cannot comprehend how her children are able to live through this ordeal. They wouldn't even entertain the thought of her dying by stoning because the word itself is chillingly gruesome. Notwithstanding the official verdict by the judiciary in Iran, Sakine's children wouldn't let go of a tiny hope that their mother could still be saved from stoning. They're desperate to save her life, just like any children, mother or father, or any sane human being, who would be in the same predicament. And this desperation amounts to them begging to the whole world to intervene for their mother. 

As a result of global outcry for Sakine, families of others held in the notorious prison of Tabriz have come forward with news of another 170 people sentenced to death that includes young people and children, and 18 others, men and women  for being gay. Two other women also await death by stoning including a 15-year old girl and a 25-year old pregnant woman. Without the media sensationalizing the story of Sakine, and her children's brave call to the world, the world would have not known there are countless others in Iranian prisons awaiting their fate by hanging or stoning. In the case of Sakine who has no complainant against her, it only makes utterly heartbreaking to realize, that the government that is avowed to protect its citizens, is determined to put on a worldwide spectacle by plucking the 'sinner' out from the 'righteous' by virtue of stoning.

With the world swiftly reacting in rage as  awareness and condemnation began to take its hold, Sakine's son Sajjad has come under a 'pro bono' persecution from government authorities for his brave effort of outing the story to the world. He was reported to have been summoned by the Ministry of Intelligence, and only God knows and the resilient people of Iran, how it is to be subjected to a state-sponsored persecution. Reports of more than a hundred cases of  stoning that have already taken place surfaced, as the world media is increasingly putting  a spotlight on the case of Sakine. More and more barbaric stories and glaringly awful tales of death have emerged subsequently.

July ninth this year, barely two weeks ago, when a 16-year old girl took her own life inside her cell, because she could not bear the reality of literaly counting the minutes into her date with the rope that will put an end to her otherwise young existence. She was accused of murder as a 14-year old girl. One other pregnant woman awaits her delivery before she could qualify to have a date with her stoners. We may ask, are we in the 21st century yet? How could this be happening? When most people are anxious for the countdown to begin for them to grab hold of that haloed Ipad in one part of the world, some are in agony of theirs too in another, albeit the countdown of death!

Sadly, most of us prefer not  to open our eyes or even stare at the facts that these things indeed happen. Most of us may be too busy trailblazing the exploits of heiress cum queen of weeds Paris Hilton from South Africa down to her vacation in France, or perhaps we are too infuriated by LeBron's 'betrayal' of his hometown team that we started to hate the Floridians? Or perhaps our minds incessantly create conclusions why LeBron's half-namesake in another part of the world got ditched by his wife - a famous presidential sister? That all of us have our preoccupations un-trivial enough to neglect, that form part of our happy existence? Is it because we are too disconnected from the greater consciousness and nobler ideals that we frown upon hearing or reading such 'obnoxious' topics as yucky as 'death'? Or perhaps our master's degree is only evident at blogging the latest high-end discounts in town? Are we no better than these stuff?

Where do we stand in a wider perspective as a people? If nobody wails of  the agonies of a fellow human being, who else will? Family is a relevant word these days. We have composed poetries, essays, songs and blogs in celebration of our love for our family. But we are somehow oblivious to the facts that some are losing their family members in a horrific yet legal way before their very eyes. Can you feel their pain? Or do you have overflowing empathy for these co-species that you want to revolt, yet find their story un-bloggable? Are we not blessed? I think I am. And I think you are too. And you are more blessed, because  you  have now mustered the courage to speak up, write about or even Like a Facebook group, condemning the barbaric killings in Iran. I encourage you guests, to sign a petition on Facebook or any other social networking site, condemning this vile practice in a country known for its oppressive regime. Our show of compassion will in no way bring us harm, for a compassionate heart only reinforces the conviction that we are humans, loved by our Maker and ought to love our fellowman. 


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Some of the photos above courtesy of Arnaldo Arnáiz Díaz

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