For anyone who saw last year’s The Stoning of Soraya M.–a movie about the 1986 stoning of an Iranian woman wrongly accused of adultery by her husband–this news out of Iran will be truly horrifying.  CNN reports:

Sakineh Mohammadie Ashtiani, a mother of two, is waiting to die in Iran by a method of execution described by her lawyer as “barbaric” — stoning.  She will be buried up to her chest, deeper than a man would be, and the stones that will be hurled at her will be large enough to cause pain but not so large as to kill her immediately, according to an Amnesty International report that cited the Iranian penal code. 

The 42-year-old woman from the northern city of Tabriz was convicted of adultery in 2006, and her execution is imminent, said prominent human rights lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei.  Ashtiani was forced to confess after being subjected to 99 lashes, Mostafaei said Thursday in a telephone interview from Tehran.  She later retracted that confession and has denied wrongdoing. Her conviction was based not on evidence but on the determination of three out of five judges, Mostafaei said. She has asked forgiveness from the court but the judges refused to grant clemency.  Iran’s supreme court upheld the conviction in 2007. 

Read more about Sakineh Mohammadie Ashtiani’s case here.

Last month, the Iranian regime specifically targeted women to thwart planned protests on the anniversary of the disputed 2009 presidential election (I wrote about it here).  It’s a discouraging sign for women in Iran who already face such harsh conditions and constant discrimination.

As for our own government, the Obama Administration sat quietly during the Iranian government’s brutal crackdown on the student protests after the fraudulent reelection of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; President Obama famously saying he preferred not to “meddle.”  The administration remained quiet after the shooting of protestor Nada Agha-Soltanby the government’s Basij military police and they continued their measured silence after reports leaked of the torture and death of those same student protesters. 

I think it isn’t a stretch to suggest that if more pressure had been put on Iran to improve its human rights record after last year’s elections, Sakineh Mohammedie Ashtiani wouldn’t be facing this horrific death by stoning.  There are terrible repercussions for U.S. silence on human rights.  Ashtiani could be the latest victims of our country’s silence.