More than a dozen Iranians picketed their country’s embassy in Armenia on Monday to condemn the possible execution of an Iranian woman sentenced to death for alleged adultery.
Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, 43, has been accused both of adultery and of being complicit in her husband's murder. Her sentence to be stoned to death was suspended earlier this year after triggering an uproar around the world. Western governments and human rights groups consider the punishment barbaric, a view shared by the tiny crowd that gathered outside the Iranian mission in Yerevan.
The protesters, all of them Iranian nationals residing in Armenia, carried banners condemning the Iranian authorities and demanding the repeal of the death sentence. “Death to the dictator,” read one of the posters.
“In some countries, even beating a donkey is considered a sin and is illegal,” one young man told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “We are against such inhuman treatment of people in Iran.”
“We are here only because there is a girl who is going to be executed in Iran in the next few days,” said another protester. “We want our government to stop killings and abolish the death penalty.”
He claimed that many of the several thousand Iranians living in Armenia would have also like to join the protest. “The Iranians are afraid,” he said. “They [embassy officials] take our photos … They can’t do anything to us in this country. But they would punish us as soon as we return to Iran.”
Iranian expatriates likewise demonstrated outside the embassy last year following Iran’s disputed presidential election and unrest sparked by it. That protest drew a slightly larger crowd.