Dear Sakineh Ashtiani


Published in German daily “Frankfurter Rundschau” on 6 August 2010
Source (German):

43 year old Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani is sentenced to death by stoning. Her last hope: increasing protests.

I imagine: I am a defendant in an Iranian courtroom. I am not heard. The judge is issuing the verdict.

The prison cell turns all women into friends. Sometimes it’s noisy. Sometimes I feel a sense of consolation. Sometimes I am strong and comfort others. Some are staring at others too much. The prison cell turns friends into foes.

Fear is spreading through my body. My stomach wants to press the fear out of me. My stomach is too small to hold all this fear. In some nights, loneliness moves through my head in steady circles. Sometimes it just dully moves back and forth. Having reached my left ear, loneliness turns around and drags itself to my right ear. This goes on as long as a fly can fly.

At dawn, the prison gate opens. Am I relieved that it is finally happening? A white cloth is being wrapped around my body and my face. The last trace of life I see is a fresh twig with a blushed apricot hanging from it. Do you really look up when the end has come? The last thing that will catch my eye will probably rather be a lace at some shoe. Shoelaces. Darkness.

The car. The potholes. My body shakes with every move of the car. After the ride, a walk. When you are blind you realize how uneven the earth is. “Go.” A push by an unknown person is the last touch of my life.

Does the direction matter? Does my face have to face East? Does God nod back? Did the judge in charge climb into the pit earlier, to make sure everything is correct?

I feel my feet touching the ground, getting a firm hold as the sand is clinging tightly around my legs. It is still early in the morning, and the sand feels fresh on my skin. Will I really realize this? Maybe I will not notice the tight embrace of the sand, because my thoughts are elsewhere now? As if the earth did not manage to swallow me entirely, only my breasts, shoulders and head are sticking out.

Then: The first Allah-u Akbar. Chapter after chapter, the Kadi scrupulously processes the punishment. Stone after stone, he watches over the law. The sensation of pain is delayed. The sand is holding me too tight. The sand makes it impossible for me to escape the stones. Each stone hits me with full force. Maybe for an hour, maybe for two. The veil sticks to my nostrils, fills my mouth. Sand gets caught under the cloth, sanding the angles of my eyes. Since I can’t use my arms to defend myself, all I can do is press the pain out of my body from between my legs. Every breath I take is held back by a stone. The pressure creates creaking sounds within my ear. Further down, in my chest, my breath just gets stuck. Fortunate whose self leaves before his body. After four hours, before the twitching heap of my body finally surrenders, it bows to life for the last time, leans towards the blood-soaked earth, and falls down motionlessly. Then, finally, the noise will stop. For they have been yelling and screaming and praying the whole time. They bragged to God. They think God is watching approvingly.

She is supposed to be next: Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani. Age: 43. Charge: Adultery. Sentence: Death by stoning.

Her two children, 17 year old Farideh and 22 year old Sayyad, desperately ask for help:

Mely Kiyak

Mely Kiyak is a freelance author

English translation provided by @germantoenglish

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