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Iran/Sakineh Ashtiani/stoning/Ebrahim Hamidi – Iran/nuclear

Published on October 6, 2010
Interview given by Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, to “Rooz Online” (excerpts)

Paris, October 1, 2010


Q. – As regards the Sakineh affair, you have written to Catherine Ashton to ask for a strong European Union engagement on the human rights violations in Iran. What exactly do you mean by “stronger engagement”?

THE MINISTER – We are particularly worried by the case of this woman sentenced to a barbaric punishment and are particularly committed to supporting her. President Sarkozy said this to the French ambassadors at their annual conference at the end of August: France considers she is responsible for Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani’s fate. Stoning is a punishment of another age which nothing could possibly justify. It’s a serious human rights violation which arouses indignation, an indignation expressed by tens of thousands of women and men who are mobilizing throughout the world in support of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani.
Our mobilization must be collective and concrete. I sent a letter to Catherine Ashton and my European counterparts to convey this message. Today I hope that Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani will be spared and I have urged the Iranian authorities several times to take a decision to this effect. On Monday, 6 September, I met Sakineh’s first lawyer, Mr Mostafaei. We will remain fully mobilized until, as we hope, a positive and definitive decision is taken.


Q. – Sakineh’s case isn’t the first and will doubtless not be the last. Do you see this situation as “the misfortune of others”? What must be done?

THE MINISTER – It’s certainly not the “misfortune of others”. I’ve said several times what I thought about the most serious individual situations, exhorting Iran to put an end to them. I have also encouraged and supported the statements of the European Union, which has spoken publicly through Baroness Ashton.

We will go on declaring that we have serious concerns regarding certain individual cases. Sakineh’s case is perhaps symbolic, but sadly, as you pointed out, it isn’t an isolated one. A young man of 18, Ebrahim Hamidi, has been sentenced to death in Iran because he is homosexual. France expressed her indignation at this decision. We must do something to get this young man spared and stop homosexuality carrying the death penalty in Iran and in the other countries where this is also the case. Our involvement hasn’t been fruitless: the film director Jafar Panahi was released from prison on 25 May 2010 following an appeal I made with Frédéric Mitterrand, the French Minister for Culture.



Q. – M. Sarkozy has warned that “If Iran can’t reach a credible agreement, her isolation is going to grow, as will the threats and possible dangers. We are preparing and organizing ourselves to defend countries which may be in danger”. Who or what must be organized and mobilized?

THE MINISTER – We are determined to do everything in our power to avoid being confronted with the worst of choices: either the development of an Iranian nuclear bomb, which could sound the death knell for our non-proliferation regime, or the bombing of Iran, which would have disastrous and far-reaching consequences.

The only way to avoid this situation is to arrive at a negotiated agreement; we are convinced this is possible and all our efforts are focused on this objective. We are stepping up the sanctions against Iran solely in order to show her the high and growing cost of her decisions and encourage her to cooperate. (…)./.

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