A CAMPAIGN demanding a pardon for women executed as witches is heading for the Scottish Parliament this week.

The Scottish Parliament’s Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee will consider the petition on Wednesday lodged by Witches of Scotland which asks for a pardon, apology and a national memorial to those killed.

While 4000 people in Scotland were accused of being witches, of those more than 2500 people were executed in Scotland between 1563 and 1736 when the Witchcraft Act was in place.

The petition was lodged with the Scottish Government on March 17 this year and has so far collected 3414 signatures.

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In response to the petition, the Scottish Government accepted that the Witchcraft Act was discriminatory. Of those accused under the act 85% of them were women.

It was started by Edinburgh-based Claire Mitchell QC and Zoe Venditozzi who run the Witches of Scotland campaign.

In the background of the petition, Mitchell wrote: “Between 1563 and 1736, the years when the Witchcraft Act was law, there were 4 relatively defined periods of “satanic panic” which resulted in approximately just shy of 4000 people being accused as witches.

“As with elsewhere in Europe, the vast majority of those accused, some 85%, were women. Confession to allegations of witchcraft were routinely obtained by torture, both physical and mental.

The National:

A historic depiction of a group of Scottish witches consorting with the devil 

“The stripping and pricking of women was common, as was sleep deprivation. Most confessed and that was used as the basis for their conviction. Of all of those 4000, academics estimate that approximately 2500 were executed.

“The method of execution was by way of strangulation and then burning at the stake.

“In comparison to elsewhere in Europe, where witch trials also took place, Scotland had approximately 5 times the number of cases than elsewhere in Europe during this time.

“Alas, at finding and killing witches, we excelled.”

Mitchell described the witch trials as a “terrible miscarriage of justice” and that it is “universally accepted that such allegations and subsequent convictions ought not to have happened”.

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The petition cites the Scottish Parliament's intention to grant a posthumous pardon of those involved in the miners strike in 1984, which applies to those living and deceased. The same form of pardon is being sought for those convicted of witchcraft.

Mitchell continued: “History still records these people as convicted witches – justice demands that this is put right.

“History should properly reflect what these people were – innocent, vulnerable people, caught up in time where allegations of witchcraft were widespread and deadly.

“Further, as the Black Lives Matter campaign has shown in particular the response to the removal of statutes, people passionately care that their history is properly recorded and they are properly represented in the world.”

Members of the petition committee reviewing the petition are convener Jackson Carlaw, Tory, deputy convener David Torrance, SNP, Bill Kidd, SNP, Paul Sweeney, Labour, and Tess White, Tory.

The petition is one of 14 due to be scrutinised by the MSP group. Other petitions include natural flood prevention on grouse moors, increased planning protection of Scottish battlefields and providing free face masks for everyone in Scotland.