State Department Condemns Stoning of Woman By Taliban in Pakistan


Tonight, the United States Department of State condemned the stoning by Taliban militants of a women in Orakzai, Pakistan.

A videotape of the stoning, which sources in Pakistan say took place two months ago, was smuggled out of the country by a Taliban member who passed to it Al Aan, a Dubai-based television channel that deals with women’s issues. The video is now being circulated on YouTube.

The Daily Mail reports that the gruesome video, which is not provided on this site nor on the Daily Mail site, shows the following:

A woman lies tied to the ground as a group of men gather round her, repeatedly throwing stones at her.

She appears to plead for help but despite her cries, they continue to rain stones down on her until she lies still.

News sources have pointed out that stoning is a routine punishment for adultery in Iran and Saudi Arabia.  Under the rule of the Taliban however, being seen alone with a man is sufficient crime alone to warrant the death penalty. 
 
Gayle Lemmon, deputy director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program at the Council on Foreign Relations told ABC News:

“It’s difficult to know where and when it was shot. It is consistent with videos that have been coming from Taliban-controlled areas since the ’90s.”

“Women are respected as carriers of the family honor,” Lemmon said, “but they also pay the price…[if they] “stray outside the line” in Taliban-controlled areas, they may “face severe punishment.”

P.J. Crowley, Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Public Affairs said in a statement:

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the brutal stoning of a woman in Orakzai, Pakistan.

This vicious attack, carried out as a crowd of onlookers watched, violates all norms of human decency and is a chilling example of the cowardly disregard violent extremists have for human life. There is no justification for such barbaric and cruel treatment of a fellow human being.”

Other cases of stoning and sentences of stoning for women accused of adultery have drawn international attention and revulsion.  In Iran, Sakineh Ashtiani, 43, was convicted of murder and adultery under Sharia law, and sentenced to be stoned to death.

European Commission President Jorge Barroso described Ashtiani’s case as “barbaric beyond words.”

“We condemn such acts, which have no justification under any moral or religious code.”

Ashtiani’s lawyer, Mohammed Mostaefi, has been forced to flee to Europe for his safety, while Ms Ashtiani’s fate, as she waits in Evin prison in Iran, remains uncertain.

Women’s rights advocates have been calling for the United Nations to take action to ban stoning and to expel Iran from the United Nations.  A letter published in the Guardian UK on September 21st, 2010, and signed by 40-odd representatives of international human rights groups read:

We are writing to ask that the UN general assembly condemn stoning as a crime against humanity and issue an emergency resolution calling for an end to the medieval and barbaric punishment as well as the immediate release of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani and others sentenced to death by stoning.

We also ask that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad not be allowed to address the general assembly and that his government be boycotted.

A government that still stones people to death in the 21st century must have no place in the United Nations or any other international institution or body.

The full list of signatories to the letter can be found at the link to the Guardian article.  Originators of the letter also called on the international community to call on their own heads of government to define stoning as a form of torture and a crime against humanity, and to call on Iran to release the women sentenced to death by stoning.

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