Wednesday 28 October 2015

Amputation, blinding and lashes all part of Iran's medieval system of justice

By Benjamin Weinthal / Published October 27,

Iran's medieval barbarity is not limited to executions, it includes lashings, amputations and even the blinding of people convicted of crimes deemed relatively minor by the civilized world, according to a new UN report on human rights in the Islamic Republic.

More than 480 persons were flogged during the first 15 days of Ramadan for not fasting, and two people convicted of theft had limbs amputated just weeks before the U.S. and other world powers announced a nuclear agreement with Tehran, wrote Ahmed Shaheed, the UN’s special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, in a 26-page report. "The Government maintains that only three individuals were subject to this punishment for their non-observance of the fasting practice."

In another case highlighted in the report, the left eye and right ear of man identified only as "Hamid S." were removed surgically. He had been found guilty of attacking another man with acid, resulting in the loss of the man’s eye and ear. Iran forcibly blinded another man in March as part of its “retribution-in-kind” punishment. The man was with charged tossing acid on another man in 2009.

President Obama has stated the hope that over $100 billion in sanctions relief in exchange for Iran curbing its nuclear weapons program will moderate the clerical rulers in Tehran. As a result of the nuclear deal, Obama said he envisioned that Iran would “take some decisive steps to move toward a more constructive relationship with the world community.”

“Human rights must be on top of the agenda in any talks between the world community and Iranian authorities," Maryam Nayeb Yazdi, a prominent Canadian-Iranian human rights activist based in Toronto, told "For as long as the world ignores human rights in Iran, the situation will just continue to get worse. The world, including mainstream media, needs to open its eyes to human rights violations committed by the Iranian regime, as they are comparable to that of ISIS.”

The report also spotlighted Iran’s ongoing persecution of Christians, including those meeting in informal house churches. Pastor Victor Ben-Tamarz, the former head of the Shahrara Assyrian Pentecostal Church in Tehran , faces a trial for conducting a Christmas service at his house. He was released on bail pending the outcome of his trial.

In April, the Shahin Shahr Revolutionary Court “upheld the one-year prison sentence and two-year travel ban of 13 Christian converts who were arrested on 2 February 2013 at a house church.” The practicing Christians were charged with “propaganda against the State”, “advocating for Evangelical Christianity” and “establishing house churches.”

Iran’s regime told the UN that “there is no need to establish new churches because the current ones meet the religious needs of religious minorities,” and added that the activities of “house churches are considered illegal.” email and telephone queries to Iran’s UN consulate spokesman Babaei were not immediately returned.

Rouhani announced this week that Iran’s regime expects sanctions to be lifted by the end of 2015.

Benjamin Weinthal reports on human rights in the Middle East and is a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow him on Twitter @BenWeinthal

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