Amnesty International is calling on the government of Iran to abolish the practice of stoning. Iranian law prescribes stoning as a means of executing married persons who have committed adultery. The Iranian government claims the practice has been halted. But in fact several people have been stoned to death in Iran in recent years. According to Amnesty International, nine women and two men in Iran currently face execution by stoning.
Stoning is not the only appalling punishment used by the Iranian authorities. Earlier this month in the province of Sistan va Baluchistan [see-STAHN va bah-loo-che-STAHN] in southeast Iran, authorities amputated the right hands and left feet of five men charged with robbery. The province is home to Iran's ethnic Baluch [Bah-LOOCH] minority. It has been the scene of increasing unrest amid complaints of religious and ethnic discrimination by the Iranian government.
Iranian Nobel peace prize-winner and human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi [she-REEN eh-baw-DEE] protested the amputations in Sistan va Baluchistan. A written statement issued by the Center for the Defense of Human Rights, headed by Ms. Ebadi, said, Unfortunately, the violation of human rights in Iran has not only been expanded in some fields, it has also found new dimensions. Ms. Ebadi said in an interview, We have constantly protested the existence of such punishments in our penal code. But the government ignores our protest.
President George W. Bush says that the Middle East is
threatened by violent extremists who refuse to allow people to chart their own future. These extremists, he says, are embodied by the regime that sits in Tehran. In a recent speech, he spoke directly to the Iranian people:
" You have a right to live under a government that listens to your wishes. . . .We call on the regime in Tehran to heed your will, and to make itself accountable to you. "
The day will come, said Mr. Bush, when the people of Iran have a government that embraces liberty and justice. . .And when that good day comes, you will have no better friend than the United States.