By Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL
A 22-year-old, who is said to have been an outstanding student, was lashed on October 17 at Tehran's Evin prison. Amin Niayifard was sentenced to 30 lashes for insulting President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, according to a report by the opposition Kalame website.
"My Dreams'" says the "barbaric" punishments will only increase the Iranian opposition's faith in their cause.
Niayifard was arrested in the crackdown following the 2009 presidential election and released on bail. He was jailed after an appeals court confirmed his prison sentence. According to Kalame, Niayifard is due to be released next week after completing his six-month sentence.
Blogger "My Dreams" has reacted to the flogging of Niayifard, the latest in a series of lashings of political prisoners in the Islamic republic. The blogger believes the lashing sentences are a reminder from the Iranian authorities to critics that they should keep silent.
Excerpts from the blog post:
First came the arrests [following the disputed June 2009 vote], I remember when we would hear someone had been arrested, we would be surprised, anxious, and scared. We would ask why? Why did they arrest [that person]? I can't believe it! Slowly it became normal. When no one would get arrested, you would ask why, and why aren't they arresting me?
The arrests were becoming gradually normal. Then came the prison sentence, five years, six years, seven years, and 10 years, and.... The sentences were so heavy that now when you hear someone has been sentenced to one year in prison, you thank God and you say, "It's nothing, it will end soon."
And now lashing. It seems that the filthiest human punishment is becoming normal. I remember when the news about the flogging of [doctoral student Somayeh Tohidlou] broke, how everyone was upset. When the news broke that student activist Peyman Aref was flogged, no one cared about the flogging itself but the discussions focused on whether it was symbolic or not [Tohidlou had first said her lashing was symbolic]. Today the news came that a top student was lashed and we just say thank God he received only 30 lashes.
Flogging is flogging, particularly on the body of a political prisoner. It's like we've returned to the dark Middle Ages. They've said of course that the charges against them are disrupting public order and insulting the president.
[Ahmadinejad], who has called himself the president, has said that he hasn't filed a complaint against them and he doesn't want anyone to be flogged for insulting him.
It's laughable, insulting him is just an excuse; they wouldn't lash anyone for insulting him. But they flog people to say thinking in this country is a crime. They lash you to remind you that you shouldn't think, you shouldn't say a word, you shouldn't criticize, and if you want to exist, you have to be who they want you to be.
I don't know what they think, they probably think that with these lashes, they'll break us. No, with these lashes our faith becomes stronger. We become more confident about the path we've chosen. Our bodies are being hurt, but not our mind. We're injured but not tired.
Our heart aches, not because of the lashes ,but because of the stupidity of those who think they can diminish our faith through these kinds of punishments.
Amin Niayifard was not humiliated, he is strong, but those who lashed him became smaller. Amin Niayifard became part of our history like others -- with honor and pride.
But let's not forget that the lashes on the bodies of our friends, are lashes against humanity. We will never forget them. Even if we forgive, we will never forget, so that this barbaric punishment is not repeated.
... Payvand News - 10/19/11 ... --