An Iranian appeals court has upheld the prison and flogging sentences against Azerbaijani Turkic activists, Meysam Jolani and Ali Khairjou.
The pair, charged with “participation in disrupting public order”, were sentenced to eight months in prison and 40 lashes last December. Their upheld sentence is suspended for a year.
They were arrested at their homes in October 2020, with unidentified security agents raiding the place and beating them, for participating in a rally in Ardabil’s Jiral Park
Khairjou’s wife, Afsaneh Akbarzadeh, and other members of his family who were at the protests were arrested two days later but soon released. Both men were released on bail after almost a month inside.
In a related story, student activists Milad Nazeri and Seyed Shabir Hosseini Nik, who both attend Shahroud University of Technology, were sentenced to a total of 72 lashes for “participation in spreading lies with the intention of disturbing public opinion through the Telegram channel of the University’s Student Association” and their punishment was also confirmed recently.
Their lawyer, Mohammad Ali Kamfirouzi, said that neither man was officially charged and it isn’t clear what they said that was untrue, even three years after it happened, with the implication that the charges are false. He goes on to state that flogging is not even a punishment under Iranian law for posting criticism, or even lies, on Telegram.
Iran is one of only a few countries that continues to use inhumane punishments, like flogging, in violation of international civil and political rights conventions. The punishments are typically handed out to protesters and non-violent offenders.
In April 2021 alone, at least 13 flogging sentences were issued. On April 8, 35-year-old social media activist Zohreh Sarv was flogged 74 times, even though the flogging was reduced to a fine that she paid.
Regarding state violence levied at dissidents, the Iranian security forces raided the homes of 13 Baha’i citizens in Isfahan from 6 am on Sunday, confiscating personal belongings including laptops, cell phones, religious books and pamphlets, CDs, and family photos.
Eight people – Nasrin Khademi, Sanaz Rasteh, Sara Shakib, Firouzeh Rastinejad, Azita Rezvani, Mojgan Pourshafi, Noushin Hemmat, and Afshin Vajdani – were arrested and taken to an unknown location.
An informed source said: “Male officers went over Sara Shakib while she was asleep. They violently treated her mother and other family members as well. Some 16 officers who came with four cars inspected all three floors of the house and after a complete inspection, showed an arrest warrant for Sara Shakib and took her away. They said that the family should go to the Isfahan court on Nikbakht Street at 6 o’clock. They also had a warrant for her younger sister, 21-year-old Samira Shakib, and told her that she should turn herself in whenever they called or summoned her.”