Release Izadi now!
Interview with Maryam Kousha
October 29, 2004
Maryam Kousha is editor of the English
bi-weekly publication of the Organisation for Women's Liberation.
The interview aired on International
TV October 24, 2004.
Maryam Namazie: Zhila Izadi, a 13-year-old
girl, was recently sentenced to death by stoning by the Islamic
Republic of Iran for having
sexual relations outside of marriage with her brother. Soon after,
the regime backed down saying she had never been sentenced to
stoning and gave her an 'alternative' punishment instead. Can
you give us an update?
Maryam Kousha: Zhila, the 13-year-old girl
has been held by the Iranian regime and has been given 55 lashes.
She is frightened
and in poor conditions. Let me just say something about what the
Islamic Republic has said. The fact that they say they had never
condemned her to stoning illustrates a retreat from the regime's
They did sentence her to stoning. According to Islamic
laws, stoning is the punishment for having sexual relations outside
marriage in Iran. It just shows how effective our campaigning and
that of others are in making the regime back down from its original
It is so horrendous. We are talking about children
here. She is only 13; her brother 15. We were quick to publicize
gain international support. We also tried to get people to condemn
this atrocity. To this effect the campaign has been successful.
However, this is not the end. She is still in danger of being
executed by stoning or any other form of punishment.
The Islamic regime of
Iran does not want to contradict itself, so it has said that they
are not going to stone her now; at the
moment she is in custody (a so-called safe house!!) and will most
probably be executed when she is 18 years old if the pressure lets
up. It is unbelievable.
The Organisation for Women's Liberation and
the International Committee against Stoning are campaigning for
her and her brother's immediate release.
Yes. According to reports that we have received,
they are both in 'safe houses'. What is eventually going
to happen to them, we have to see. From our point of view, they
should be freed and taken care of instead of being punished. They
are children; they should be given counselling and be given every
help possible. The present punishment or any other punishment planned
to be inflicted on them when they turn 18 should be abolished.
We are totally against execution and capital punishment.
And here we are talking about children. It goes without saying
should not be harmed in any way, let alone executed. No child should
be in prison, no child should be executed, and no child should
be in any sort of danger. We will continue our campaign until their
release. There are no buts and ifs about it. They should be released
and given every possible opportunity to live a normal life.
Another woman, Seema, had also recently been sentenced
to death by stoning but it was revoked again. The regime has not
stoned anyone for over a year now. You talked about international
pressure. Would you say that it has been this pressure that has
prevented women from being stoned in Iran over the past year or
International pressure plays a major role but it
is not the only factor. Seema along with three other women have
been sentenced to stoning but have not yet been stoned. There are
two factors: the international campaigns that we run and the degree
of protests in Iran. We are talking about the students, the nurses,
the teachers, the workers' strikes and struggles. We are
talking about a whole wave of protest movement that has always
been in Iran but is gaining momentum now.
It is a juggling act
for the Islamic Republic of Iran as to how far they can go. The
more pressure we put internationally and nationally in Iran against
the Iranian regime, it makes it more difficult for them to implement
their reactionary and backward Islamic laws.
For example, as far
as Zhila's case is concerned, Mina Ahadi the chairperson
of International Committee against Stoning has been very active
to ban stoning. She has had many meetings with European Union officials;
she has had press conferences publicising the case. This does have
an effect. It may not stop stoning in one day, but it prevents
and slows down the implementation of this criminal act.
collected more than 220,000 signatures condemning stoning. These
activities do have an effect. Even if we save one life, it is
important because it will set precedence. It also shows how powerful
are. The Iranian regime cannot just go around killing people
right, left and centre. People in Iran are watching and focusing
It is an important pressure and we must carry on with it.
It is interesting that you say this because when
the Islamic government of Iran imposed a moratorium on stoning
they did mention that there is so much pressure on them and that
it was causing them bad publicity. So it is obvious that this pressure
is effective. What would you say our viewers could do? People who
are outraged by what is happening to Zhila Izadi and the issues
of stoning and so on?
People can do a lot of things.
Those who are aware of the facts and the campaigns we are running,
e-mail us, or
the TV, and if you would be kind enough to forward the mails to
us, condemning the flogging and imprisonment of Zhila and her brother
and other stoning sentences.
We are also campaigning to save the
lives of 2 women in Nigeria. People can write to their MPs, to
the Iranian regime's officials, condemning stoning and demanding
an end to stoning. People can distribute our paper... They
can get in touch with us. We want to spread the word. Sign our
petition; send us donations. All these activities need financial
Maryam Namazie is the host of TV
International English, is a Central Council Member of the
Organisation of Women's Liberation and Director of the International
Relations Committee of the Worker-communist Party of Iran.