Iran accuses US of double standards over woman's execution
- Iran accuses US of double standards over woman's execution
Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani's sentence to death by stoning for adultery compared to Virginia's plans to execute Teresa Lewis
Saeed Kamali Dehghan
guardian.co.uk, Monday 20 September 2010 20.17 BST
Iran has criticised US double standards over Teresa Lewis's execution. Photograph: Ho/AFP/Getty Images
Iran accused the US of human rights violations today over plans by the state of Virginia to execute a woman for the first time in nearly 100 years, despite claims that she has severe learning difficulties.
Iran's state-sponsored media has devoted considerable coverage to reports about Teresa Lewis, who is scheduled to die by lethal injection on Thursday for arranging the murder of her husband and stepson in 2002.
The parliamentary human rights committee said her case reflected "the double standards" of the American government, comparing her case to that of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a 43-year-old Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery.
"We will file an official complaint to the international community against the US if the sentence is administered," Hossein Naghavi, an Iranian MP and the spokesman for the committee, told the semi-official Fars news agency. Several Iranian MPs have expressed concerns over Lewis's execution and have asked the US for her sentence to be commuted.
America was one of the several countries to express outrage over Ashtiani's case, which has embarrassed the Iranian government after receiving considerable international attention. Iran has since suspended the stoning sentence, although Ashtiani is still being held in jail and her family fear for her life.
In Virginia, governor Robert McDonnell refused an appeal for clemency for Lewis, who lawyers say has an IQ of 72. The supreme court has ruled that anyone with an IQ below 70 may not be executed. She has one last chance of appealing to the US supreme court ahead of her scheduled execution. The men who carried out the killings – one of whom was Lewis's lover – received life sentences.
Iranian news agencies highlighted similarities between the cases, reporting that Lewis, like Ashtiani, had been convicted of "having an extramarital relationship". MPs criticised the US for sentencing Lewis to death while sparing the lives of the killers – as happened in Ashtiani's case.
The Fars news agency criticised the US media for "being silent in the past seven years Lewis has been kept in jail". "On her execution day she'll wish for a better country whose judiciary would listen to its people rather than intervening in the internal affairs of other countries," it said.
"It's not been a long time since the American media attacked Iran over the case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani … Lewis's case has similarities with Mohammadi Ashtiani's case with the difference that Sakineh has been found guilty for the crime she committed but there are lots of ambiguities in Teresa's case. The US and the American media tried their best to make a symbol of human rights out of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani because of the background of their atrocities towards Iran but after seven years, human rights organisations have been silent for Teresa. This shows their double standard in relation to other counties."
Iranian MPs Zohreh Elahian and Salman Zaker also condemned the US over Lewis's sentence which they say is "contradictory to international standards". They have called for a judicial review.
In an interview with ABC last weekend in New York, Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denied Ashtiani had ever been given a death sentence by stoning.
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