Two Iranian women, Sakineh Ashtiani who currently faces an execution sentence, and Nasrin Sotoudeh, who is a human rights lawyer and colleague of Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi, are in danger in Iran. Ahtiani, who was sentenced to death by stoning after an adultery conviction, faces a possible execution by hanging, while Sotoudeh a prominent human rights lawyer has been on a dry hunger strike (no food or water) for more than a week while protesting her imprisonment.
Ashtiani was scheduled to be executed by hanging last Wednesday, but with massive international protest, her execution was suspended. According to Iranian officials, her file is “under review,” but the regime has been known to execute people whose files were under review in the past. In 2006, she was convicted of having extramarital relations with two men who killed her husband. While she initially received a sentence of 99 lashes for adultery, during an appeal of her case, the court sentenced Ashtiani to death by stoning. After worldwide outrage, this sentence was commuted to death by hanging.
Sotoudeh, who defended many political activists and campaigners in Iran’s presidential elections last year, has been held in Tehran’s Evin Prison since September 4, when she was arrested and charged with “acting against state security” and “propaganda against the Islamic Republic.” Sotoudeh has been refusing food and water to protest the intolerable conditions of prison and the improper investigation of her case and is in grave physical shape as a result. Activists are concerned she will soon fall into a coma or die.
Prominent political figures, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, have issued statements expressing concern and dismay over the treatment of the women.