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Iran 1st-Hand: The Flogging of Peyman Aref 

Journalist and student activist Peyman Aref, arrested after the disputed 2009 Presidential elections, was given a one-year prison term in March 2010 after being found guilty of "propaganda against the regime" because he spoken to foreign media. He was also sentenced to 74 lashes for writing an "insulting" letter to President Ahmadinejad and given a lifetime ban on work as a journalist and membership in a political party.

On Sunday, as his year in prison ended, Aref was lashed by a masked prison guard before Aref's wife. This flogging was not symbolic --- a photograph of Aref shows his badly lacerated back. 

This is Aref's account of the incident, taken from Rah-e Sabz and posted by persianbanoo:

Mr. Aref, this flogging sentence was not carried out symbolically as these days they say they perform, right?

Not only they did not perform this flogging sentence symbolically. But I wish they would have at least followed their own ruling, meaning they should have performed the Taaizi flogging according to Article 609 of the Islamic Republic penal code (Note: according to the penal code a Taaizi sentence can be converted in lieu of fines, and if flogging is performed, it should not be harsh and hard.)

Renowned religious scholars insist on the difference between Taaizi flogging and Haadi flogging (Note: According to the penal code, Haadi flogging is given for more serious crimes like adultery or consumption of alcohol and should be performed in harshest manner).

In the Taaizi flogging sentence, the person performing the flogging should not raise his arms up very high, should hold a Qoran under his arms so he can not raise his arms high enough for the book to fall, but they performed the flogging in the most savage and brutal way. They flogged me in the same manner that is allowed in Sharia Law for adultery and consumption of alcohol.

For exactly what crimes was the sentence of flogging performed on you?

For insulting Ahmadinejad, as per Article 609 of the Islamic Republic penal code. Judge Pirabasi issued the 74 lashes sentence in Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court.

Where and how was this sentence performed:

In the Prosecution’s office in Evin, witnessed by Mr. Dehnamaki, the Office Manager for Public Prosecutor’s Deputy. The sentence was carried out in the most brutal manner. My Taaizi flogging sentence was performed in a Haadi flogging manner.

I asked them for a Judicial order. Right then and there I made a complaint to Mr. Jafari-dowlatabadi (Tehran Public Prosecutor). Right here, I ask Mr. Jafari-Dowlatabadi to issue a judicial order; that is if he really is the Public Prosecutor, which I doubt he is.

Was your wife present at the time of execution of this sentence?

My prison term was finished today. Since I was to be released today, they took me to the Magistrate’s office in Evin prison.

The Assistant Prosecutor is Mr. Khodabakhsh, who was not present in the office. They did allow my wife to be present in the office. A masked person came into the room, and the person who flogged me also had a mask on his face.

They took me to another room at the end of the hallway, and, in the presence of Namaki, the Assistant Prosecutor, they flogged me. The person flogging me raised his arm up as high as he could and hit me in the most brutal and harsh way that he could.

After being flogged, what did you feel?

I could not hold my back straight from the pain of being flogged and my heart condition is not good. On the advice of the doctors I took a shower but the pain and burning sensation is severe.

If there is anything you would like to say to the officials, or to Ahmadinejad, which for insulting him you received your flogging sentenced, please tell us here:

Every time that Ahmadinejad is in New York, he claims that we have the most free country in the world. However, right here in my own country, they flogged me in the most brutal manner for the crime of insulting him.

I only wrote a letter to Ahmadinejad explaining the situation in our universities. My letter still exists, I did not insult Ahmadinejad in that letter at all, I only said I will never say hello to him again.

I want to emphasize that the verdict given to me was illegal and the flogging sentence was performed in the most brutal manner.

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