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Amnesty condemns Iran’s flogging of man for drinking alcohol as teenager

A man being flogged. (Amnesty International/Public Domain)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Amnesty International is denouncing Iran for the public flogging of a young man whose alleged crime was having consumed alcohol at a wedding when he was 14 or 15 years old.

Amnesty in a statement issued late on July 11 called the flogging “horrific” and “absolutely shocking,” and said it violated international law as well as international conventions on civil and children’s rights.

The public flogging took place on July 10 in Niazmand Square in Kashmar in Iran’s Razavi Khorasan Province, where the man, who was identified only as M. R., was flogged 80 times on his back for having consumed alcohol at a wedding 10 years ago when he was a teenager.

The Amnesty statement included an image showing a young man tied to a tree as he was being flogged by a masked man with a crowd of people watching at a distance.

When contacted on July 12, Amnesty could not independently verify that the image was of the flogging in Kashmar, and said that photo attached to its report was from Iranian news coverage of the incident.

“The circumstances of this case are absolutely shocking, representing another horrific example of the Iranian authorities’ warped priorities,” said Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa Director Philip Luther.

“No one, regardless of age, should be subjected to flogging; that a child was prosecuted for consuming alcohol and sentenced to 80 lashes beggars belief,” he said.

“The Iranian authorities’ prolific use of corporal punishment, including on children, demonstrates a shocking disregard for basic humanity. They should immediately abolish all forms of such punishment, which in Iran includes amputation and blinding as well as flogging,” he said.

Luther said that Iran, as a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, is legally obliged to forbid torture and other cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment.

“It’s simply unacceptable that the Iranian authorities continue to allow such punishments and to justify them in the name of protecting religious morals,” he said.