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The 'Free Sakineh' Mohammadi Ashtiani Movement Spreads Through Petitions And Letters

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Iran has modified its charges on Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a woman convicted of adultery in May 2006, to include murder, The New York Times reports.

Though reported without a source via the Jahan news service, Iran claims that her original conviction also included murder, but that the graphic details of the crime precluded them from making it public.

This renewed resolve by Iran makes it even more likely that they will reject the offer from Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula to give sanctuary to Ashtiani.

The movement to encourage the release of Ashtiani has grown considerably in the past two months, with petitions and letters being signed by hundreds of thousands.

A petition on global activist site Avaaz.org titled "Stop Stoning!" boasts over 554,000 signatures as of 3:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday.

The petition at FreeSakineh.org has over 148,000 signatures, as of 3:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday. Prominent activists, including Peter Gabriel, Annie Lennox, Gwyneth Paltrow, Bernard-Henri Levy and Arianna Huffington have signed.

The text of that petition is below:

We the undersigned are aware of the unjust treatment of Sakineh Ashtiani. WE CALL FOR SAKINEH ASHTIANI'S IMMEDIATE RELEASE.

We call for the elimination of stoning as a practice in Iran, a practice which violates any and all definitions of human rights.

We call for the elimination of other forms of the death penalty or flogging or imprisonment for those convicted of "adultery".

We also call on the authorities to ensure that Sajjad Qaderzadeh will not be harassed in connection with expressions of concern he has made regarding the life of his mother, Sakineh Ashtiani.

In as much as Iran is a signatory to the International Declaration of Human Rights and related Conventions, we call upon Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the leaders of Iran to take responsibility for their commitments and intervene to free this woman who is being unjustly punished, as well as other women currently condemned to die by stoning for adultery.

No matter what the differences are in religious or political beliefs, Iran must participate, along with all other nations, in creating a world where basic human rights and fundamental humanity prevail.

Stoning is barbaric.... And it must be stopped.

Avaaz.org is also posting advertisements in Brazilian and Turkish newspapers, asking the leaders of these Iranian allies to do everything in their power to secure Ashtiani's release.

They're asking for donations to pay for these ads and push this campaign over the next several days.

Petition Online and The Petition Site each have several, though some of these petitions have significantly fewer signatures than on Free Sakineh.