Mokarrameh Ebrahimi and Ja’far Kiani, who have two children, were condemned to death by stoning under article 83 of the Iranian Penal Code after being found guilty of adultery by Branch 1 of Takestan’s criminal court.
Their execution, initially scheduled for 17 June 2007 and subsequently postponed until 21 June, was to take place in public at the cemetery of Behesht-e Zahra in Takestan, in Qazvin province (northwestern Iran). However, activists belonging to the movement Stop Stoning Forever, an Iranian human rights group which has been running a campaign against stoning since 2006 in their own country, brought the couple’s plight to the attention of the public and numerous appeals were launched within Iran and abroad to prevent the execution. In response to this wave of protests, it was made known on 20 June that the Head of the Judiciary, Ayatollah Shahroudi, had sent the judicial authorities of Takestan a written order granting a stay of execution, though Mokarrameh Ebrahimi and Ja’far Kiani remained under sentence of death by stoning.
On 7 July, anti-stoning activists announced that Ja’far Kiani had been stoned to death two days earlier in Aghche-kand, a village near Takestan. There is great concern that his partner may suffer the same fate. Mokarrameh Ebrahimi has been imprisoned for 11 years with her children, who apparently live with her.
The stoning of Ja’far Kiani is the first to have been officially confirmed since Ayatollah Shahroudi issued a moratorium on this barbaric punishment in December 2002. However, there is irrefutable evidence that a woman and a man, named Abbas and Mahboubeh, met the same fate in May 2006 in Mashhad. To our knowledge, seven women and one man are facing execution by stoning in Iran.
ACAT opposes the death penalty under any circumstances. Execution by stoning is a particularly brutal punishment, as it is intentionally designed to increase the victim’s suffering by using stones sufficiently large to injure victims without killing them immediately.
Iran has one of the highest death penalty rates in the world. There have been 120 victims since the beginning of 2007, according to the most conservative estimates. Two recent victims of the death penalty, Mohammad Mousavi and Said Qanbar Zahi, executed respectively last April and May were under eighteen at the time the crimes attributed to them were committed.
The human rights situation in Iran is getting worse by the day. Journalists and feminist, trade union and student groups, in particular, are subject to persecution. The pressure has intensified in recent months with increasing numbers of journalists and human rights activists being arrested. On 16 July, two journalists from Iranian Kurdistan were sentenced to death by hanging for having dared to publish articles that were deemed "subversive" by the authorities.