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Iran: Prisoner Commences Hunger Strike in Protest Against Corporal Punishment Sentence

By INU Staff

INU - A Kurdish singer that has been sentenced to 100 lashed and two years imprisonment has started a hunger strike. Peyman Mirzazadeh is being held in Urmia Prison in the north-western part of the country.

He was sentenced by the 110th Branch of the Urmia Public Court to 20 lashes for consuming alcohol and two years imprisonment and 80 lashes for “blasphemy”.

He was taken to the 4th Branch of the Sentence Implementation Department on Sunday 28th of July where his flogging sentence was carried out. Mirzazadeh began his hunger strike on Monday 29th July.

This is not the first time the Kurdish prisoner has been targeted by Iranian authorities. He was arrested by security agents in 2017 and charged with “spreading propaganda against the state”. He was singing songs that included messages of support for a dissident group. For this charge, he was sentenced to six months in prison. He was also denied access to a lawyer throughout.

The Iranian regime systematically hands out flogging and other corporal punishments despite the practice being internationally banned. Reports from inside the country show that Iran continues to blind, amputate and stone offenders of minor crimes.

Last year, Amnesty International drew attention to the case of a man in Iran who was flogged 80 times for consuming alcohol a decade prior. The man in his mid-twenties was punished for something he did when he was aged just 14 or 15. The organisation said that the case was a further example of the Iranian regime’s “warped priorities”.

The man was flogged publicly, tied to a tree with people watching. Pictures were shown through domestic media outlets. Amnesty International said that the incident “demonstrates a shocking disregard for basic humanity”.

Amnesty International and many other human rights organisations around the world have called on Iran to stop using corporal punishment.

In another example that was highlighted by human rights activists, a 34-year-old man had his right hand amputated by Iranian authorities last year after he was convicted of theft.

Cruel punishments like this may shock the international community, but the regime refuses to stop the practice. The Committee on the Rights of the Child (a body of the United Nations that oversees the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by state parties) called on the Iranian regime in January 2016 to “immediately repeal all provisions which authorize or condone cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of children”.

Corporal punishment sentences are handed out for a number of so-called “offences” such as intimate relationships between unmarried men and women, what the regime describes as a “breach of public morals”, adultery and consensual same-sex sexual relations – acts that should not be criminalised.

In a statement last year, Amnesty International said: “The Iranian authorities’ prolific use of corporal punishment, including on children, demonstrates a shocking disregard for basic humanity. They should immediately abolish all forms of such punishment, which in Iran includes amputation and blinding as well as flogging.”

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