Preview Screening Tonight: The Stoning of Soraya M

Tonight I’ll be attending a preview screening here at the Human Rights Action Centre of “The Stoning of Soraya M”, an award-winning feature film based on a true story. The title tells you everything you need to know really – based on a true story, this award-winning (fictional) film is about a woman, in a rural village in Iran, who is stoned to death.  

It’s a free event with drinks and Iranian food beforehand and tickets are still available – book your place here.

The director Cyrus Nowrasteh, who will give a Q&A at the screening tonight, hasn’t pulled any punches or sanitised the issue at all. In fact the final 20 minutes or so are pretty tough to watch, even for someone who has seen a lot of harrowing human rights films. While it got a glowing write-up in the FT today, the film’s graphic stoning sequence has divided critics, some of whom felt it was too much. But I think the director made the right decision. This is what stoning is like – horrific. People should watch the film, get angry, and do something about it.

It’s also interesting that another woman tells Soraya’s story in the film and stands up for her rights. This is what is happening in Iran: many people are disgusted with the fact that the country still executes people in this way (even if it’s rare – just 6 recorded stonings since 2006). Activists have campaigned to try to abolish it, for example the Stop Stoning Forever campaign. Lawyers have defended their clients. But all have faced harassment and repression from the authorities.

Amnesty is involved in tonight’s screening because it is dedicated to Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a woman who currently faces execution by stoning or hanging right now in Iran. It’s a complex case, explained a little more in a previous blog and in this briefing. One of Sakineh’s lawyers, Mohammed Mostafaei, had to flee the country after the authorities came for him and his family; another lawyer working on the case was apparently arrested this week, together with Sakineh’s son and two German journalists who were interviewing them.

But to put it very simply, Sakineh is still at risk of execution by stoning or hanging. Please lend your voice to the campaign to save her from execution.  

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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