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Iranian Man Sentenced to Controversial Forced Labour Punishment

By INU Staff

INU - The Iranian Judiciary has sentenced a man to forced labour in a mortuary in the north-eastern province of Khorasan Razavi; something considered a controversial sentence by many Iranians.

The 28-year-old man, who has not been named, was given “180 hours of forced labour in a mortuary” by the 6th Branch of the Khorasan Razavi Penal Court for unintentionally shooting at a passerby with a shotgun, according to a report on the state-run ROKNA website.

No charges pressed

The man who was accidentally shot did not press charges, acknowledging that it was a mistake, so the Iranian Judiciary charged the shooter with illegal gun possession. (Iran has very complicated laws on shotgun ownership.)

The young man was first sentenced to six months of prison but this was reduced to forced labour because of the circumstances, social conditions, and that this was a first offence.

Protest by mortuary employees

The sentence of “forced labour in a mortuary” is a controversial punishment, which has previously resulted in protests by mortuary employees. They consider such sentences to be discriminatory and insulting to their job because they view their work not as a punishment, but as a service to the people.

According to Islamic burial rites, corpses must be washed or bathed in mortuaries before burial.

In 2017, the Islamic Labor Council of Behesht Zahra Cemetery Workers protested and filed a complaint when a young woman, known only as Mina, was condemned to forced labour in a mortuary for having an extra-marital relationship with a man. (She was also sentenced to 74 lashes.)

The labour council wrote in their statement: “We feel demeaned. Our job is a noble job in the service of the public. We endure eight hours of hard and demanding work as well as a myriad of problems and stresses. However, such treatment by the judiciary is intolerable.”

They explained that embalmers must be “physically and psychologically strong” with a “good grasp of legal and religious regulations related to their job”, making it an unsuitable punishment for criminals.

It is also worth comparing these two sentences. The man who accidentally shot someone was given just 180 hours, but the woman who had a relationship outside of marriage as given two years and was flogged. How on earth can this possibly be right? How could the punishment fit the crime? It’s almost as if the Regime considers extra-marital relations to be a worse crime than shooting someone.

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