By Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL
Iranian opposition sources, including the “Kalame” website, are reporting that 14 political prisoners held in Tehran’s Evin prison have been flogged. Most of them were reportedly jailed following the 2009 mass street protests over the disputed reelection of Iran’s President Mahmud Ahmadinejad.
Photos: Iranian activist flogged following jail term - October 2011
Among them is journalist and blogger Siamak Ghaderi, who was sentenced to four years in prison and 60 lashes on a number of charges, including insulting Iran’s president, spreading lies, and acting against Iran’s establishment.
Ghaderi’s wife, Farzaneh Mirzavand, told Mahtab Vahidi of RFE/RL's Radio Farda that she was shocked when she found out her husband had been lashed.
She said her husband told her about the punishment during a prison visit. She said Ghaderi told her that his flogging had been enforced “symbolically.”
“I use the term 'symbolic' because [my husband] said they lashed him slowly while not [using full force]," she said. "However, he said that one prisoner had been flogged harshly.”
The families of some of the other prisoners who were lashed told Radio Farda that one of the prisoners had been badly injured as a result of the flogging.
The families said they were surprised that the lashings had taken place during the month of Ramadan, during which they said they had expected tolerance and Islamic forgiveness from Iranian officials.
Several other political prisoners have been lashed in recent months, including Peyman Aref. He was lashed 74 times in October 2011 before being released from Evin prison. A photograph of his badly bruised and bloodied back, widely shared on social media, led to outrage among activists and intellectuals.
Somayeh Tohidlou, a blogger and a doctoral student of sociology who campaigned for defeated presidential candidate and opposition leader Mir Hossein Musavi, reportedly received 50 lashes at Evin prison in September 2011. She said the sentence was aimed at humiliating her.
Mohammad Maleki, a former chancellor of Tehran University and an outspoken critic of the Iranian establishment, told Radio Farda’s Hossein Ghavimi that the aim of flogging is to create fear in society and also among prisoners.
Maleki, a former political prisoner himself, said he felt deeply sorry when he read the news about the most recent floggings. But such measures are not unusual for Iran’s rulers, he said.
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