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Woman flogged as calls grow for Iran to be held to account

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Julie Tomlin
WVoN co-editor

A young Iranian woman has been given 50 lashes as calls heighten for the country’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to be held to account for human rights abuses when he takes part in a meeting of the United Nations in New York this week.

Somayeh Tohidlou, a political activist and Tehran University PhD student who was arrested in 2009, is reported to have written on her blog last week that authorities at Tehran’s Evin Prison had carried out the sentence of 50 lashes.

The blogger, whose sentence has been linked to her blogging and her role in the protests of 2009, was released on bail after 70 days in prison and later sentenced to one year in prison and 50 lashes.

An appeals court withdrew the one-year prison sentence but upheld the flogging sentence.

Her arrest is part of a widespread crackdown on women’s activists and supporters of the Green Movement that has been in operation since the protests of June 2009 (see WVoN story).

Human rights campaigners are demanding that the United Nations and the world’s media do not let President Ahmadinejad off the hook for a catalogue of human rights abuses carried out in Iran in the past two years when he arrives in New York today for the 66th annual session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Flogging and stoning are considered legal punishments according to Iran’s Islamic Penal Code but are illegal according to international laws.

In 2009, the UN General Assembly expressed “deep concern about the continuation and repetition of violations of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran pertaining to torture and cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment and punishments such as flogging and limb amputations”.

Bita Mostofi, a New York-based human rights lawyer mobilising protests in New York to coincide with President Ahmadinejad’s visit, said in an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran:

“Various Iranian activists and organisations that stand in solidarity with the activists inside of Iran have come together to protest and call on the international community to hold him accountable for human rights violations.”

“This is a representative of a government that has oppressed, tortured, imprisoned and carried out countless human rights violations and they must be held to account.”

  1. Ummm…aHmadinejad is not in charge of the judiciary and so can’t have a say over who gets what sort of punishment, just like how a US president can’t tell a US judge how to rule in a criminal case. Where was this sudden concern for the human rights of Iranians when the US was arming Saddam Hussein with chemical weapons be used against Iranians? LOL. You’re a sheep.

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