Solidarity group condemns rise in lashing as punishment in Iran

4th June 2016

Press Release

For Immediate Use

Solidarity organisation, the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People’s Rights (CODIR), has condemned the recent upsurge in lashings as punishment in Iran.  Last week over thirty students in the town of Qazvin, north of the capital Tehran, were accused, tried, sentenced and punished within a twenty four hour period.


Quite apart from the human rights issues raised by the brutality of the punishment, amounting to 99 lashes for each student who attended a graduation party involving both men and women, the implications for the judicial system in Iran are immense.


Mixed-gender parties, dancing and the consumption of alcohol are illegal in Iran, although they have become common over the past decade, especially in cities.  Lashings have been used regularly as a punishment since the early 1980s.


The local prosecutor in Qazvin, Esmail Sadeghi Niaraki, said that an arrest warrant was issued and the defendants were sentenced to 99 lashes after being questioned. “We hope this will be a lesson for those who break Islamic norms in private places,” Mr. Niaraki said.


The lashing of the students follows on from the punishment of seventeen miners in North Western Iran last week.  The miners were lashed by order of the Judiciary after their employer sued them for protesting against the firing of hundreds of their colleagues.


While the United Nations has declared lashing a cruel and inhuman punishment, tantamount to torture, this has not prevented the Islamic Republic from using it as a tool of repression against those deemed not to have complied with Islamic practice.


CODIR has also repeated its call for the Islamic Republic to free labour activists currently on hunger strike.  President of the Independent Union of Workers of Iran, Jafar Azimzadeh, has been on hunger strike for over five weeks while Mahmoud Beheshti, who was recently hospitalised following a seventeen day hunger strike, was released from prison a few days ago.


Azimzadeh has been now more than 33 days on hunger strike and his physical condition is deteriorating daily.  His protest is against the government treating trade union activities as political crimes.  He is demanding a properly organised trial in which he can argue his case.  Azimzadeh’s family has started a daily protest vigil in front of parliament and is calling for his release from prison.  The Iranian trade union movement has called on the government to respond positively to Azimzadeh’s just demands and release him from prison.


The CODIR May Day appeal, on behalf of  imprisoned teachers and the 36 independent journalists, including leading figures in the media, who have been incarcerated on spurious charges, gained widespread international support.


CODIR Assistant General Secretary, Jamshid Ahmadi, stressed the link between the campaign for trade union rights in Iran and the human rights agenda.


“The international trade union movement has sent clear messages of solidarity to those languishing in Iran’s prisons ensuring that the eyes of the world are upon the regime.  The continued detention of these trade unionists reflects the fate of many fighting for freedom inside Iran,” said Mr Ahmadi, “those students merely attending a graduation ball will not have seen themselves as human rights activists.  Yet the brutal actions of the regime can thrust even the most unsuspecting into the frontline in Iran.”


CODIR has stressed that the functioning of the judicial system in Iran is not in accord with the norms of natural justice or of international law.


“To arrest, try, sentence then punish a group of people in less than 24 hours is the act of a regime which has no confidence in its judicial processes,” said Mr. Ahmadi, “the right to a proper legal defence and appeal against any sentence is a basic human right in any legal system.”


CODIR points out that the government of Hassan Rouhani has failed to take measures to ease pressure on trade union activists and human rights campaigners in the country.  On the contrary, all evidence points to the fact that the Iranian regime is not showing any signs of moving in the direction of enacting crucial ILO conventions 87 and 98.


CODIR, which has campaigned for over 30 years to highlight trade union and human rights abuses in Iran, will continue to campaign for the release of unjustly imprisoned trade unionists and to repeal the unjust and brutal sentencing laws in Iran.


Human rights have not been on the agenda with the Iranian regime in the discussions around its nuclear programme, which resulted in sanctions being lifted earlier this year.  CODIR has expressed concern that this may be taken as carte blanche by the regime to act as it pleases on the domestic front, as long as it fulfils its international obligations.


“CODIR will continue its campaigning for trade union and democratic rights in Iran,” continued Jamshid Ahmadi.  “We welcome the lifting of sanctions and reduction of tensions between Iran and the rest of the world and in particular the US and the EU.  However this should not be at the expense of liberty for Iranian trade unionists, democrats and human rights activists.”


As CODIR has emphasised previously, human rights violations are part of a coordinated policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, to maximise pressure upon human rights and trades union activists, their colleagues and family members, in order to pressurise the opposition movement in Iran.





Note for Editors

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Further information for Editors

CODIR is the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People’s Rights.  It has been established since 1981 and has consistently campaigned to expose human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

CODIR has worked closely with the trades union movement in the UK, the peace movement, all major political parties and Amnesty International to press the case for an end to torture in Iran’s prisons.

CODIR has published Iran Today, its quarterly journal, since 1981, explaining the latest developments in Iran and the most effective way that the British public opinion could demonstrate its solidarity with the people of Iran.

In recent years CODIR has worked closely with Stop the War Coalition and has been vocal against any form of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the nation.


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