Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

Promoting tolerance and justice through knowledge and understanding

Flogging of Sufis in Gonabad: Fourteen Ne’matollahi Dervishes Received 25 Lashes Each for Allegedly Disturbing the Public Security

Majzuban-e-Nur website
June 23, 2011

"The lash ruling against 14 Ne'matollahi dervishes of Gonabad was carried out. They were residents of Baydokht and had been arrested and condemned by the Public Prosecutor of Gonabad after a protest against the illegal treatment dealing with the Sufis in June of last year [2010].

According to the website of Majzuban-e-Nur, Mr. Sa'id Kashani, Mr. Amir Roshan-Mojaver-Sufi, Mr. Alimohammad Amanian, Mr. Ruhollah Safari, Mr. Ali Abbasi-Baydokhti, Mr. Ebrahim Abbaszadeh, Mr. Mohammadali Ja'fari, Mr. Hossein Mahdavi, Mr. Hossein Abbaszadeh-Baydokhti, Mr. Rahmat Hosseini, Mr. Reza Kakhki, Mr. Behruz Mojaver-Sufi, Mr. Ali Mir, and Mr. Hassan Baluchi-Baydokhti are the fourteen dervishes whose requests were not only rejected, but who were condemned to 25 lashes for disturbing the public security.

It should be mentioned that Ruhollah Safari, the last dervish who had avoided going to the court for the sentence execution, told the agents who came for him: ‘if you want to torture me, you can use force and arrest me.' Following the resistance by this dervish, agents handcuffed and arrested him, and carried out the lash ruling against him.

It should be remembered that these dervishes were condemned to 25 lashes and 91 days suspended imprisonment for disturbing the public order by gathering in front of the courthouse and the prison in Gonabad. The rulings were confirmed by the Appeals Court."

ABF Note


Findings of guilt in the Islamic Republic of Iran's Judicial Proceedings

The Islamic Republic of Iran's criminal justice system regularly falls short of the standards for due process necessary for impartiality, fairness, and efficacy. Suspects are often held incommunicado and not told of the reason for their detainment. Defendants are frequently prohibited from examining the evidence used against them. Defendants are sometimes prohibited from having their lawyers present in court. Additionally, confessions, made under duress or torture, are commonly admitted as proof of guilt. Because Iran's courts regularly disregard principles essential to the proper administration of justice, findings of guilt may not be evaluated with certainty.

Corporal Punishment: the Legal context in the Islamic Republic of Iran

The Islamic Republic's criminal code recognizes corporal punishment for a wide range of offenses: consumption of alcohol, theft, adultery, "flouting" of public morals, and mixing of the sexes in public. Judges have the latitude to mete out corporal punishment for those sentenced to death. In such cases, the flogging is carried out before death to maximize the suffering of defendant. Aside from flogging, the Islamic Republic also employs amputations as a punishment for theft. In such cases, the defendant is taken to a hospital and put under anesthesia as his hand or foot is amputated. In some cases the left foot and right hand are cut off, making it difficult for the condemned to walk, even with the assistance of a cane or crutches.

The Islamic Republic's Systematic Violation of its International Obligations under International Law

The use of corporal punishment is contrary to international law and is addressed in several international agreements. Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which Iran has ratified, states that, "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." Identical language is also used in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Iran is also a party to. The strongest expression of international disapproval is contained in the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT). This treaty defines torture as, "any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as ... punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed." Although the Islamic Republic of Iran has yet to sign the CAT, the prohibition on torture is now considered jus cogens and, therefore, part of customary international law. Furthermore, even though the norm against corporal punishment is not yet a jus cogens, there is increasing evidence that it is illegal under international human rights law.[1] In Osbourne v. Jamaica, the Committee Against Torture (a body of experts responsible for monitoring compliance with the Convention) held that "corporal punishment constitutes cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment contrary to Article 7 of the Convention." The Islamic Republic of Iran's systematic violations of its obligations under international law have been addressed by the UN General Assembly multiple times, most recently in December 2007. In Resolution 62/168, the UN expressed deep concern with Iran's continued flouting of international human rights law, particularly, "confirmed instances of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, including flogging and amputations."