Sakineh and other women stoned to death: if those throwing the stones are “us”

shapeimage_2 [machine translated from Italian] These days the Italian public opinion is having a burst of outrage. Writers, journalists, athletes and thousands of citizens are expressing solidarity with a woman, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, sentenced to death in her country, Iran, and they appeal to the authorities of that country to suspend the sentence and reconsider the trial. In addition to a centuries old aversion of many Italians to the death penalty itself, in this case it is the disproportion between the particular crime of which she is accused (extramarital affairs) and the death penalty with such a barbarous execution of the sentence itself (stoning), which cause aversion and mobilization. The ancient teaching from the Gospel (Injil) on stones and adultery has a strong resonance in these circumstances. But it’s precisely this principle of moral responsibility and mercy which induces a further reflection.

This writer fully endorses the appeal for clemency because the reasons for the conviction and the sentence imposed are cruel and contrary to human dignity and unfit for the ancient civilization of that country.

In this case there is still hope to achieve something and save a life. Unfortunately, in so many past cases we have come too late. For example, it is still vivid the memory of the tragic death of fifteen women stoned to death on August 22, 2008 in the village of Azizabad, Herat province, Afghanistan. We can remind the names of some of them: Paik (17), Suraya (32), Sameera (25), Shireen (60), Zulaikha (35), Bari Gul (22), Gulrukh (30) and others of which we only know the patronymic. In this case there was no trial and the women were no specific charges were pressed against them. Yet died buried under stones too, the stones that used to make up their houses, hurled upon them by an inhuman power, far superior to the muscles of a few dozen men: high explosive. A NATO bombing – followed by a raid – killed 91 people in that village (or 76 according to other sources), including 15 women and dozens of children. After the massacre the media dutifully and courageously informed the public in spite of NATO systematic denial. Before and after the Azizabad bombing, dozens, hundreds of other women and other civilians, were stoned to death under the rubble of their homes bombed by NATO aircraft. They were not targeted intentionally, it goes without saying, those were tragic missteps on the road to ensure our security and bring democracy in that battered country. Or at least this is the official narrative. But after nine years of war, hundreds of billions of euros spent by the U.S. and allies to support with corrupting policies an unabashedly corrupt puppet regime, this narrative is hard to believe.

The Tehran regime is authoritarian, violent and fascistic and the civilian opposition that has the courage to confront it certainly deserves all the sympathy and solidarity. I think that we should also follow a principle of political and moral responsibility that stems from the privilege of living in a democratic regime. We should be concerned first and foremost about what our own government and its allies are doing, in Italy and elsewhere. It is important to acknowledge that so far none of the massacres against the civilian population has been attributed to the Italian troops operating in Afghanistan within the framework of the ISAF mission under NATO command. This is due primarily to the high professional and human quality of the soldiers and officers serving the Republic. However, we are part of an alliance that shares the same political goals, and we must also share the responsibility of its actions. According to this principle of primary responsibility, which does not exclude other universalistic moral duties, we should first demand an end of the bombing that for years have literally stoned to death dozens of Sakineh in Afghanistan, we should demand an end to the operations of death squads, such as U.S. Task Force 373, which under the pretext of hunting down Taliban leaders continue to massacre women and civilians in Afghan villages, we should ask for an investigation to ascertain possible violations of international humanitarian law and war crimes by NATO troops in Afghanistan. We should, but we prefer to stare at the barbarity of others while hurling stones by way of allied aviation.