The flogging sentence is one of the types of “legal” torture of citizens in Iran; An inhumane and humiliating sentence that has become a law in the form of Islamic punishment by developing legal laws in Iran based on Islamic Sharia. This very painful and traumatic punishment has become one of the means of suppressing citizens of the Islamic Republic for many years. The investigation of Iran Prisons Atlas about the lashing sentences issued from September 16, 2022, until now and comparing it with the same period of the previous year shows that the issuing of lashing sentences against civil activists and political activists after the beginning of the Women, Life, Freedom uprising has increased nearly four times compared to the same period of the previous year.
The sentence of flogging is defined in several articles of the Islamic Penal Code, independently or together with punishments such as prison. Legal articles including lashing sentences which have been the most repeated in the case of political activists and civil activists in the past years include Article 547 (escaping from prison or not returning from furlough), Article 609 (insulting government employees), Articles 618 and 620 (disturbing the public order), Article 638 (removing the hijab), and article 698 (disseminating lies with the intention of agitating the public mind). The legislator has defined the sentence of whipping for both civil and religious crimes. In religious crimes, the number of lashes is fixed, and in civil crimes, this amount varies between the minimum and maximum specified in the Islamic Penal Code, depending on the charges and the judge’s decision.
Despite the protests of civil activists, jurists, political activists, and Iranian citizens regarding the issuance and enforcement of whipping in Iran, this inhumane punishment is still issued and executed in the judicial system of the Islamic Republic. A sentence that, in addition to permanent damage to the body and mind of the convicts, sometimes takes their lives as well. In one of the events tracked by the Iran Prisons Atlas (IPA), Hadi Atazadeh, a resident of Ahar, died in September 2021 after being sentenced to whipping in the prison of this city and as a result of the physical injuries caused by it. Mr. Atazadeh was arrested for drinking alcohol and sentenced to prison and flogging.
Enforcement of whipping sentences in public is another aspect of the normalization of violence by the Islamic Republic; A legal violence that is carried out in the name of punishment, while there is no proportionality between this punishment and the crime, and there is no reliable research about the deterrent effect of issuing and enforcing the sentence of whipping. Although the issuing and enforcing of whipping sentences in public for political and civil activists is not foreseen in the articles of the Islamic Penal Code, the public enforcement of the flogging sentence is against humanity and brings a kind of social humiliation and disrupts the convict’s return to the society.
“These acts of removing the hijab require punishment, and the best punishment is whipping, not money.” This is a part of the statements made by Ali Moalemi, a member of the Assembly of Leadership Experts, in response to the rise of the civil struggle of Iranian women with the mandatory hijab after the beginning of the women, life, freedom uprising; This is the mentality of a jurisprudence graduate, which explains part of the motivation for including the humiliating and inhuman sentence of whipping in the Islamic Penal Code. Such statements show that, despite being aware of the physical and psychological harm of whipping, the authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran use the tool of whipping against citizens and political opponents to continue their ideological rule and humiliate others.
According to the IPA data bank, since September 2022, and after the beginning of the uprising of Women, Life, Freedom until now, the judicial system of the Islamic Republic has issued a total of 7404 lashes for at least 117 civil and political activists – including 13 women and 104 men – considering their final sentences after applying Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code. These 117 activists have been sentenced to a total of 99 years and three months in prison and fined 1160 million Rials.
The number of flogging orders issued against civil and political activists after the uprising of Women, Life, Freedom is nearly four times the amount of whipping orders issued in the same period of the previous year. During a one-year period from September 2021 to September 2022, the judicial courts of the Islamic Republic punished 29 political and civil activists – including 18 women and 11 men – after applying Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code and considering the final sentence issued in each case – by issuing a total of 1970 lashes, 32 years and 10 months in prison and 510 million Rials in fines.
The most frequent accusations leading to the flogging sentences in these two similar periods are similar: Disturbance of public order, the subject of Articles 618 and 620 of the Islamic Penal Code, and disseminating lies with the intention of agitating the public mind, the subject of Article 698 of this law. Nevertheless, after the beginning of the Women, Life, Freedom uprising, the judicial system of the Islamic Republic has used legal articles that include heavier punishments to condemn civil and political activists in a tangible way; A process in which Islamic Republic uses punishments such as whipping in a targeted way to suppress citizens.