Stop Stoning in Iran

stoning-300x182Stoning is designed to cause maximum suffering. It generally takes between 20 minutes and two agonising hours to kill someone. Those sentenced to death are more likely to be poor and marginalised, particularly women.

And as you read this, 14 people in Iran are at risk of this inhumane death.

Stoning is mandatory under Iranian law for men and women convicted of ‘adultery while married’. The Penal Code explains in chilling detail how to carry out the punishment, from how deeply to bury the victim in the ground to the size of the stones to use: not so large as to kill too quickly, not so small as to cause too little hurt. The practice of stoning as punishment for adultery continues in Iran, despite a government-issued moratorium on the practice in 2002, and a recommendation in 2009 by the Legal and Judicial affairs Committee to remove stoning from the Iranian Penal Code.

Now is a crucial opportunity to stop the barbaric practice of stoning for adultery, as the Iranian authorities are currently reviewing the country’s Penal Code – including whether execution by stoning should be retained in the Code.

Click here to email Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran – asking for stoning to be stopped TODAY!

Bridport Mayor Axes Prayers!

David Rickard

NEW mayor David Rickard has come under fire from church leaders after axing prayers at council meetings in Bridport. Coun Rickard, 66, has insisted upon a short time of quiet contemplation at the full meetings of Bridport Town Council instead of the Lord’s Prayer. Read the full story here.

Here’s another report on it – Mr Rickard said he was surprised by the reaction. “After all, it’s not a religious service, it is a council meeting,” he said. “I personally find it anachronistic when the majority of people no longer go to church.

Greens Highlight Care Concerns

The East Devon Green Party were shocked to hear figures out last week showing that more than 650 elderly residents have died of dehydration in the past five years in Britain’s care homes. A further 157 care home residents died of malnutrition and almost 2,000 pensioners were killed by superbugs.

The Office for National Statistics found that 1,446 care home residents died as a result of pressure ulcers or bedsores, 4,866 were victims of septicaemia or blood poisoning and 4,881 had fatal falls. These deaths are happening in care homes which cost on average £600 – £800 per week.

38 year old Green Party area co-ordinator and Green candidate for Honiton, Sharon Pavey works as a care assistant in a residential home specialising in caring for elderly people with dementia. She described these figures as “simply shameful” adding “It is appalling that thousands of people have been and are still being neglected in this way. Our elderly relatives are dying every day in the UK because basic levels of care are not being given, and we are asking why?”

Sidmouth Green Party member Sharon Howe was also shocked by the figures “My Mum spent several years in three very good care homes in Sidmouth so this subject is close to my heart. I have a friend who recently worked in a very prestigious care home in Devon and was totally appalled at the way residents were treated. Care in this country obviously varies a great deal from home to home.”

Tony Smith Chair of Honiton Senior Council is concerned about the standards of care locally “There are a number of care homes in the Honiton area, and I’m sure some of them are very good but we are worried about these figures showing that our elderly population is being let down”.

Mr Smith explained that the Senior Council would like to see a survey done locally in order to establish the levels of care and highlight any concerns which can then be addressed.

The East Devon Green Party would like to hear your views on caring for the elderly or any other issues which affect you. They are holding a coffee morning at the Christ Church Hall in Exmouth on Saturday 19th February from 10am until midday. For anyone in the Honiton area, there’s a Green Party fundraising skittles night on Wednesday 23rd February at The Heathfield Inn from 8pm. Non-members welcome, tickets are £6 from Sharon Pavey Tel: 07740973990 or

Black Friday

100 years ago, on 18/11/1910, two women were injured and later died because they tried to enter Parliament. They were part of a group of Suffragettes who went to the Houses to demand a debate on the Conciliation Bill, a bill that would have given some women basic voting rights. Of the 300 who came, 200 women were arrested that day. There were 6,000 police. We call it Black Friday.

100 years have passed. Fewer than 1 in 5 MPs are women. Only 1% of the world’s money is controlled by women. For every 10 people displaced by climate change, 7 are women. There is a vigil being held at 6.30pm on 18/11/10 on College Green, Parliament Square to remember Black Friday. Bring a candle, a jamjar, a banner and a veil. Hear Caroline Lucas MP and Dr Diane Atkinson. Remember the Suffragettes. More details here. or you can see the Climate Rush Facebook page.

Here’s a link to the Climate Rush website – because “well behaved women seldom make history” !!!

Please add your comments below.

Help Avaaz Stop Brutal Stoning

Dear Friends,

Yesterday an Iranian woman, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, was saved by global protests from being stoned to death.

But she may still be hanged — and, meanwhile, execution by stoning continues. Right now fifteen more people are on death row awaiting stoning in which victims are buried up to their necks in the ground and then large rocks are thrown at their heads.

The partial reprieve of Sakineh, triggered by the call from her children for international pressure to save her life, has shown that if enough of us come together and voice our horror, we may be able to save her life, and stop stoning once and for all. Sign the urgent petition now and send it onto everyone you know — let’s end this cruel slaughter NOW!

Sakineh was convicted of adultery, like all the other 12 women and one of the men awaiting stoning. But her children and lawyer say she is innocent and that she did not get a fair trial — they state her confession was forced from her and, speaking only Azerbaijani, she did not understand what was being asked of her in court.

Despite Iran’s signing of a UN convention that requires the death penalty only be used for the “most serious crimes” and despite the Iranian Parliament passing a law banning stoning last year, stoning for adultery continues.

Sakineh’s lawyer says the Iranian government “is afraid of Iranian public reaction and international attention” to the stoning cases. And after Turkey and Britain’s Foreign Ministers spoke out against Sakineh’s sentence, it was suspended.

Sakineh’s brave children are leading the international campaign to save their mother and stop stoning. Massive international condemnation now could finally stop this sickening punishment. Let’s join together today across the world to end this brutality. Sign the petition to save Sakineh and end stoning here:

In hope and determination,

Alice, David, Milena, Ben and the whole Avaaz team

Palestine Solidarity Campaign

I’ve contacted the Palestine Solidarity Campaign today to sign up to PSC’s six election pledges:

  • Call on Israel to end its violations of international law, including ending its illegal occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza
  • Oppose any attacks on universal jurisdiction and support bringing those responsible for Israeli war crimes to justice
  • Work to end the siege on Gaza
  • Call on the government to ban the import of settlement goods
  • Call on the government to suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement
  • Call for an end to Britain’s arms trade with Israel

The issue of justice for the Palestinians has never been more urgent. 1.5 million Palestinians living in Gaza are now into their fourth year of living under a horrific and brutal siege. And Israel is continuing its illegal settlement building programme throughout the West Bank and East Jerusalem, further entrenching its illegal occupation. It is vital that MPs in the next Parliament understand they have a responsibility to act to end Israel’s violations of international law.

Find out more here

Shame on you China 你感到羞恥

I wrote a few days ago on this blog about the British man who was due to be the first EU national in 50 years to be put to death by the Chinese government. I am very sad to say that despite repeated last minute attempts by various organisations and the British government, British father of three Akmal Shaikh was killed by the Chinese in the early hours of this morning.

You can read the whole story here on the BBC site.

Here is my article from a few days ago.

If you like me are completely opposed to governments thinking they have the right to kill people (the death penalty) then do what I’m doing right now, support either Reprieve or Amnesty International by donating to them or simply buying a product off their sites below:

Don’t just sit there – DO SOMETHING !!!

British Father of Three Faces Execution in China

When you’re relaxing over Christmas – spare a thought for Akmal Shaikh (pictured above). Akmal is a 53 year old father of three from London.

Akmal is due to be executed by the Chinese next Tuesday December 29th for allegedly smuggling drugs. He was arrested in September 2007 on arrival in Urumqi, the capital of the far western Xinjiang region, in possession of four kg (8.8lb) of heroin. Campaigners said that he was duped into carrying the drugs for a criminal gang.

The Times Online reports that if the death penalty is carried out, Mr Shaikh would become the first national from a European Union country to be executed in China in decades.

The British prisoners’ rights charity, Reprieve said it has medical evidence that Mr Shaikh, who is married with three children, suffered from a delusion that he was going to China to record a hit single that would usher in world peace. However, he was duped by a criminal gang into unwittingly carrying drugs for them into China, Reprieve alleged, saying that his strange behaviour was “influenced or caused by” his mental illness.

In what could be the last week of Akmal Shaikh’s life, his children Leilla Horsnell, Abdul Jabar Shaikh and Imran Shaikh plead for their father’s life issuing a heartrending plea for mercy from the Chinese Government. Having not previously publicly commented on the case out of respect for the Chinese legal process, they now feel the situation is too desperate to remain silent:

“We are horribly shocked and upset that our father’s final appeal has been denied and an execution date set. We wish to make a personal and desperate plea to the Chinese Government to spare his life. Our father has been seriously ill for much of his life and we would be devastated to lose him in these circumstances. We respectfully hope that particularly during this holiday season the Chinese people will show their great capacity for compassion and humanity and grant him a reprieve.”

Wikipedia states that China currently uses two methods of execution. The most common is execution by firearms which uses an assault rifle to fire a single shot of an expanding hollow point bullet to the head.

Lethal Injection was introduced in 1997. It differs from its application in the U.S. in that it is carried out in fixed locations as well as in specially modified mobile execution vans. As lethal injection becomes more common, debate has intensified over the fairness of relying on lethal injection to execute high officials convicted of corruption while ordinary criminals get executed by firearms. It is public opinion in China that lethal injection is an easier way for the condemned to die.

Members of the People’s Armed Police carry out an execution of a convicted female double murderer with a rifle shot to the back of her head (Image from the 1980’s) China leads the world in executions.

It’s now up to Gordon Brown and the rest of our government to stop China from killing this man. You can help by checking out the Reprieve website – see or look at the blood curdling statistics over on Amnesty International.