Kurdish prisoner of conscience flogged 100 times for blasphemy

Peyman Mirzadeh

Peyman Mirzazadeh, a Kurdish singer held at Urmia Prison in northwestern Iran, went on hunger strike on July 29, 2019 in protest to being sentenced to two years of prison and 100 lashes. His flogging sentence was carried out on July 28 and left him in agonizing pain with a severely swollen back and legs.

Peyman Mirzazadeh started his hunger strike after he was flogged with 100 lashes in the 4th Branch of the Sentence Implementation Department on Sunday.

The 110th Branch of the Urmia Public Court sentenced him to two years of prison and 80 lashes for “blasphemy” and another 20 lashes for “drinking alcohol”.

Peyman Mirzazadeh was previously sentenced to two years of prison for “cooperating with a dissident group”.

In 2017, Peyman Mirzazadeh was arrested by security forces on charges of “spreading propaganda against the state” by singing songs in support of a dissident group. He was sentenced to six months of prison and was denied the right to a lawyer.

Condemning the flogging of Kurdish singer and prisoner of conscience Peyman Mirzazadeh 100 times Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa said: “It is appalling that Peyman Mirzazadeh was subjected to such an unspeakably cruel punishment. His flogging highlights the inhumanity of a justice system that legalizes brutality. He is a prisoner of conscience detained merely for exercising his freedom of expression and the Iranian authorities must release him immediately and unconditionally.”

Iran practices flogging and other internationally banned corporal punishments including amputation, stoning, and blinding.

Under Iran’s criminal laws, more than 100 offenses are punishable by flogging. Iranian courts have also sentenced some journalists or civil rights activists to be flogged over their peaceful work.

Iranian human rights activist estimate that Iranian courts issue hundreds of flogging sentences each year, and several dozen are carried out.
The regime does not consider flogging as torture and routinely issues flogging sentences for a wide range of so-called “crimes”.

Most recently a court in the city of Shahreza, in Isfahan Province, central Iran, condemned teachers’ rights activist to three years in prison and 74 lashes.

Hamid Rahmati, a member of the Isfahan Teachers Association, was sentenced to lashes and prison for holding a sit-in outside a government building in protest to the widespread arrest of teacher activists.