Three More Letters to Sakineh

Former French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing and French first lady Carla Bruni are among the public figures who today published open letters to Iranian death row prisoner Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani.
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The campaign in favor of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani is gaining momentum. Today, not one but three letters are being published by the daily, Libération, the magazine, Elle, the literary review, La Règle du Jeu, and The Huffington Post. The text of a former French President of the Republic, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, invites Iran to remain faithful to the founding values of the great Persian civilisation. My friend Ségolène Royal, former Presidential candidate, who, among others, was behind the petition at the origin of this campaign, encourages Sakineh to "take courage and hope". And the spouse of the current President of the Republic, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, speaks from the heart of a woman to this other woman, tortured, suffering the martyr, perhaps to be stoned tomorrow, who is Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani. The variety of these letters and the quality of their authors are proof, if any were needed, that there are situations and causes that transcend the political cleavages and loyalties of everyone. Thanks to all three of them for having understood this and for declaring their support here. Thanks to all the men and woman of good will for signing, en masse, on or elsewhere, our call for clemency and for the liberation of Sakineh.

Bernard-Henri Lévy

Dear Sakineh,

Condemned to be buried alive, and then stoned to death! Your beautiful face, reduced to a pulp! Your eyes full of sorrow and dignity, your forehead, your mind, your soul, transformed into a target for the stone throwers, exploded, pulverized, in shreds! Horror and consternation! This revoltingly nightmarish image, this vision that terrifies us and seems to come from a long ago age, this unbelievable torture that is on the very verge of becoming reality. For obscure reasons, in cold rage, people who are like you and me have decided so, Sakineh. People who claim the right to the power of life and death over those who refuse to obey them. Having learned of the sentence pronounced against you, how can one possibly remain silent? What is at real risk of happening to you will profoundly harm all women, all children, all those who are moved by human feeling. And even worse, you would not be the only one who risks being subject to this dreadful execution. I cannot see any good that may come of this macabre ceremony, whatever the legal justifications supplied.

To spill your blood, to deprive your children of their mother--but why? Because you have lived, because you have loved, because you are a woman, an Iranian? Everything within me refuses to accept this. The Iranian people are among the most ancient and remarkable nations of the planet. I do not understand how the heirs of a great civilization built upon tolerance and refinement can be unfaithful to this millennial heritage. Your judges must know, Sakineh, your name has become a symbol the world over. Let us hope they may understand that, no matter what the time or the place, they shall never be able to wash their hands of such a crime.

I am proud to live in a country that has abolished the death penalty. For a long while, it was an element of our law, and I can tell you that this abolition was a democratic victory, one that was very important for all of our people. What if this victory became yours as well? What if the Iranian nation turned its back on this barbarian practice?

I pray that your country's justice may find the way to prove clement in your case and in the cases of all the other victims who risk undergoing the same torture. In France, school children learn that mercy is the greatest virtue of those who govern. In the depths of your cell, know that my husband will plead your cause unfailingly and that France will not abandon you.

Carla Bruni-Sarkozy

In principle, I refrain from intervening in judicial procedures taking place in foreign countries. But in this case, the fate awaiting Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani does not seem to me compatible with the principles and customs of the modern world. From its very origins, humanity has worked to free itself of cruel and primitive behavior. In every culture, civilization seeks to reject practices that are detrimental to the dignity of human beings. Stoning is one such practice. The penalty one proposes to inflict upon Sakineh throws us back into the dark ages of humanity. I believe that the great Persian culture that contributed to building human civilization deserves much better than this. Let us hope the Iranian authorities will realize this while there is still time.

Valéry Giscard d'Estaing

Dear Sakineh,

I am thinking very hard about you, and about your children, Fasride and Sajjad, and my blood runs cold. Take courage and hope, more and more voices are being raised for you all over the world, and they will succeed in being heard and in tearing down the walls of your prison. In helping you, we are helping ourselves. We need your liberation so that our ideal of liberty and fraternity may advance and gain ground. There where the dignity of women is bruised, crushed, annihilated, Humanity in its entirety recedes. Where woman is used as an expiatory victim, enslaved for the sole crime of having been born a woman, all those who know that this obscurantism leads to even greater disaster must rise. Sakineh, we will not abandon you. Hang on for us, hang on for us.

Ségolène Royal

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