“We love each other no matter what happens.” Those were some of the last words of Khayyam and Siddiqa before they were stoned to death for ‘eloping’. This was the first stoning in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. Surrounded by many of the victims’ neighbors and even their family members, the couple received this gruesome punishment handed down by an Islamic Council.
In fact, the execution was carried out two days after the Council of Ulema called on the Afghan government to implement harsher shari’a punishments, which included public stoning, lashing and amputations.
Despite continuous efforts by international human rights groups and governments, the method of execution by stoning still remains a legal punishment in several other countries. They include Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen, and the United Arab Emirates.
The news of the couple stoned to death is a tragic and ironic remainder of ongoing abuses of human rights in Afghanistan. The Council of Ulema and the Afghan government must denounce stoning as a punishment and cease from using it.
The “court” that ordered the punishment, found Sanam Gul, also known as Bibi Sanubar, guilty of having an illicit affair, proof of which was her pregnancy. She was sentenced to 200 lashes and then executed. The punishment was carried out by Mohammad Yousuf, the area Taliban commander amid a crowd of onlookers.
Sanam Gul’s death comes soon after the chilling Aug 7 executions of ten medical aid workers who had been returning from a trip to provide free medical care to remote regions of Afghanistan.
These barbaric theatrics meant to intimidate and terrify local populations are not novel tactics for the Taliban. In the time that they controlled Afghanistan, from 1998-2001, such public floggings and executions were frequent occurrences in towns controlled by the group. In addition to such tactics of terror which misuse concepts of Islamic law to instate a reign of terror, the Taliban are also guilty of increasingly bloodthirsty killing campaigns that kill hundreds of Afghan civilians.
In the first half of 2010, the executions and assassinations of civilians by the Taliban and other insurgent groups increased by over 95% to 183 recorded deaths compared to the same time last year. The victims were usually accused of supporting the According to Staffan De Mistura, Special Representative of the Secretary General of the U.N “Afghan children and women are increasingly bearing the brunt of this conflict; they are being killed and injured in their communities in greater numbers than ever before”.