Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

Promoting tolerance and justice through knowledge and understanding
Victims and Witnesses

"Don't Worry: We'll Whip Him in a Way He'll Still be Able to Sit"

Nima/ Interview with ABF
Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation
December 4, 2015

My name is Nima. I was born in [the city of] Gorgan on February 13, 1984. I have a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from Gorgan Azad University.

I was sixteen when I met a girl who was one of our relatives’ neighbors in Tehran. It started out as a very simple friendship, and eventually ended in marriage ten years ago. Before marriage, she was in Tehran and I was in Gorgan, and our contact was mainly through the phone. Every once in a while, I would find an excuse (an exhibition, for instance) to go see her in Tehran.

In August-September, 2000, when I was seventeen, we made plans with two of my friends to go to the Caspian Sea for a few days. I asked my father to lend us his car. He refused at first but finally gave in and gave us the car for two days. Since I wasn’t eighteen yet and therefore did not have a driver’s license, a friend of mine who had just obtained his license drove the car. It started to rain when we left, which made us decide to go to Tehran instead. It was a good opportunity for me to see my girlfriend. So we went to Tehran and stayed with one of our friends.

I made plans to see my girlfriend in the Pasdaran neighborhood. I met her around 2 or 3 o’clock in the afternoon and my friends took us in the car to one of the alleys where construction was going on and was kind of a dead-end. My friends parked the car and left to get some food and to give us a chance to be alone and talk. My girlfriend was sitting in the back seat and I was lying down with my head in her lap. We were talking, when suddenly, two officers on a patrol motorcycle, entered the alley and came our way. One of them, who was around 30 years old opened the car door and slapped me in the face, saying “What the hell are you doing?” My friends got back that very moment. One of them opened the door where my girlfriend was sitting and told her to run quickly: “We are three boys; whatever happens we’ll think of something.” My girlfriend ran but the second officer who was around 27-28 years old, blocked her way and said: “Where are you going?” I started to yell and scream, hoping to find a way out [of the situation] but the agent who had slapped me, put his hand on his weapon to scare us. We were in shock. I don’t remember exactly what they were saying but their conduct was not appropriate. They called for backup and ten minutes later, three more officers showed up in a light green Peykan [automobile] with a siren on the roof and a dark green stripe all around the car. As soon as the car stopped, a first- or second-lieutenant, about 30 years old, got out and started screaming at one of the agents, saying: “Why did you arrest these guys? They’re kids. Why did you do that?” He replied: “There was a 110 report.” In any event, one of the agents got in our car with my girlfriend, and the rest of us were taken to Pasdaran police station in the Peykan, without handcuffs. When we arrived there, they impounded the car and I put my fingerprint on the impound order. One of the agents, along with a soldier and my friend, then took the car to the police force’s special impound lot in Pasdaran, which was about 150 meters (500 feet) away, and returned to the station. All the officers were wearing police uniforms, that is, a light green shirt and dark green pants.

The police station was a two-story building located two or three streets to the north of Azad University Central Building. There were desks all around the first floor, as well as two other rooms. They took us straight to one of the desks. The man sitting behind the desk started to write down an account of the events. I heard four or five other officers say “Why did you arrest these guys? They’re kids.” But the arresting officer insisted that the minutes be written. They asked me and my girlfriend for our personal particulars such as name, father’s name, place of birth, contact number, and address. My girlfriend didn’t give her phone number and address. They then read the minutes to us and the arresting officer asked us to sign it. I was able to read some of what was written in there. It said: “We were dispatched to the reported location and saw this man and woman on the back seat of the car, engaged in religiously forbidden activities. The two are Na-Mahram (strangers, in the religious sense) and they are not carrying any documentation evidencing they are Mahram (intimate, in the religious sense); the car with such and such tag number was impounded.”

My two friends’ names were not mentioned in the minutes in spite of the arresting officer’s insistence. The officer who was writing the minutes was telling him: “For God’s sake, let it go. Who am I going to get to send them around with? Come on, let it go.” Both my friends were released.

While we were at the station, one of the guys called my father and told him of the trouble we had gotten into. About half an hour later, they sent me and my girlfriend to Amaken Administration [a sub-section of the police force charged with policing shops and other semi-public places, but that engages in additional, often unrelated activities]. I didn’t know what Amaken Administration was until that day! They did not tell us where we were being taken, of course, simply that we would have to sign a pledge [to not repeat the offense] and that it would be over if we told the truth. A soldier handcuffed me and my girlfriend together. At first he had wanted to cuff my hand to his, and not handcuff my girlfriend at all, but he was told, what if the girl ran away? So he handcuffed us together. We ended up taking a taxi at our own expense, and went to Amaken Administration (along with the soldier and my two friends) located at Narmak [neighborhood] Police Station 127, second floor.

Amaken employees all wore civilian clothes and you could not tell what their rank was. We sat on a bench in front of a room, the door to which had been left open because of the heat. There were two people in the room. One of them realized we had been handcuffed together and asked: “Who brought you? Who handcuffed you together?” “That soldier,” I said. He turned to the soldier: “Come here. What are they charged with?” “I don’t know. They just gave them to me and told me to bring them here,” he replied. He snapped at the soldier: “These two are strangers, and you handcuff them together?! Hey genius, if they’re strangers, you have just committed a crime by cuffing them together.” The soldier said: “What do I do? I said to myself, what if I cuff this guy to myself and the girl runs away? And I couldn’t very well handcuff the girl to myself, could I? So I cuffed them together.” The person inside the room then told the soldier to un-cuff us, and told the military police soldier sitting by the main door to watch us, meaning that we were not supposed to leave. We waited on the bench for a few minutes for our turn. There were other people in the hallway charged with various crimes. One person, for instance, was a karate instructor and had been brought in for sexual assault of one of his students. There was a man, a store owner, whose shop had been closed down by Amaken authorities for bothering a woman.

When our turn came, we were sent in separately at first, and then together, so that they could assess the veracity of our statements. The room looked like a normal office where two men were working. One of the men was constantly going in and out of the room, and the other one was questioning us. I entered the room after my girlfriend. A man in civilian clothes started asking me questions without introducing himself: “What is your name? Where are you from? What is your father’s name? What is your mother’s name? What is your phone number … Tell me what happened? How is this lady related to you? How do you know her? What were you doing in the car?” Then he gave me two pieces of paper and told me to write exactly what had happened, and he would tell me what to write in certain parts. “Don’t be scared, just write down the truth and I will let you go home tonight,” he said. So I wrote the story and said that we intended to get married. He then compared what I had written to the minutes written at the police station, which he read to me in its entirety, and asked if I had signed the paper, to which I responded in the affirmative. Then he gave me the account he had prepared and said: “Read this. Are these your words?” “Yes,” I answered. “Sign it then.” He also gave me the materials I myself had written to sign. Then he told me to call my girlfriend in. When she came in, he asked us to tell the whole story again. In the end, he asked us to give him our phone numbers which I did, because I knew my father had already been informed of the situation. My girlfriend, however, who had a religious family, refused, and did not provide her address and phone number. The man said: “Look my daughter, I cannot release you and let you go home if you don’t give me your address. I would have to detain you here which I don’t want to do at all. You’re not the type of girl, or of the age I would want to keep in detention with all those women, who are not good women at all.” He then gave us a telephone and said: “Call someone in your family and ask them to come here.” But she refused.

It was around 8 PM, if I’m not mistaken, that one of my friend’s relatives came there and put up two birth certificates and a house deed to secure our release. My girlfriend and I were both released until the next day, even though she had not provided them with her address and phone number. My girlfriend’s mother and sister were outside: While we were inside, my friends had been able to obtain my girlfriend’s older sister’s phone number through my father, and had contacted her.

My father came to Tehran that same night. We went back to Amaken the next day at 8 AM. My girlfriend had also come with her mother and sister. When we got to the second floor, my father went into the room by himself. Up until that moment, I thought we were there just to confirm our identities, sign a pledge, and leave. But that was not the case. My father came out of the room extremely angry: “Do you have any idea what they have written? [Religiously] unlawful relations. Do you even understand what that expression means? Do you know what their intentions are? What the heck did you put down on that piece of paper?” I was shocked. “I wrote down whatever had happened. What’s wrong?” I replied. “Nothing, they’re just sending the case to court. Did you know?” he asked. The previous day, in spite of appearing nice, that man had made up a story, that is, he had made “unlawful relations” appear as though we had had sexual relations. And apparently, based on what they had shown my father, the case was mostly against me than my girlfriend. My father and my girlfriend’s mother’s pleas fell on deaf ears that day. They checked our personal particulars against our birth certificates, returned the house deed and the other birth certificates put up for our release, and dispatched us to a court in the back alleys of Narmak [neighborhood]. They gave a soldier a sealed envelope; he handcuffed only me. Then my father, my girlfriend, her sister, and I, all went to the court.

We entered a room where the adjudicating branch was determined and the case was registered. They gave us a number and said they would get in touch with us to tell us the trial date. They asked for a 20 million-Touman deed for each of us but ultimately accepted a 30 million-Touman deed for both of us. They also said to come back the following week for the car. We went back to our town that day. A week later, when we had gone to release the car, we found out through my girlfriend, who had received a notice to appear in court, that two or three days later was our first court session.

They sent us to the investigating judge. We waited for two hours in the hallway. The investigating judge and his secretary were the only ones in the room. The judge was a man of around 40, calm, extremely religious, and in civilian clothes. There were two chairs in front of his desk and three rows of chairs in the back of the room. We sat on the chairs in front of the investigating judge’s desk separately, [not together], and after each of us were done talking, we left the room. At the end of the session, we sat together in front of the judge’s desk and answered some questions. The same questions and the same repetitive answers. The investigating judge then gave us the papers for us to sign. He also asked my father and my girlfriend’s sister, who had been sitting in the back of the room during the investigation, to sign the papers. The investigating judge then said that the case would be sent to court and that we would be notified [of a trial date]. The session did not last more than half an hour. That same day our car was released. The release report stated that the car had been inspected and that nothing suspicious had been found. After paying the related tickets[1], my father and I went back to Gorgan and waited for the trial date.

About a month and a half or two months later, in late November-early December, we went back to the court in Narmak. My girlfriend, her mother, her sister, my father, and I, entered the courtroom. The judge was a surly cleric with an aggressive demeanor. There was also a woman in a room, the door to which was next to the judge’s desk, and she came in and out a couple of times in the course of the trial. The judge read the file and said: “Well, shall I recite?” “Please go ahead Sir,” I replied. “I’m talking about the marriage vows,” he said. We were shocked. I thought he wanted to make light of things and was joking around. My father was angry but kept his cool. The judge told me: “So what did you do? What happened in the car?” I recounted the story again. Then the judge started preaching: “Aren’t you a Moslem? Don’t you know this lady is Na-Mahram? There is a solution for everything. If you love this lady, you could have told your father, and he would have recited the terms of Mahramiat (allowing two religious strangers limited leeway to be in each other’s presence) and then you could have gotten to know each other [legally]. And then, why would you even put your head in her lap? You could have put your head on her shoulder. Nothing would happen.” I was thinking that we were being treated nicely and was hoping that we would get a light sentence. But then the judge said (again): “What do you want me to do? Should I recite?” “Recite what?” I said. I didn’t know whether he was toying with us or instigating us. My father couldn’t control himself anymore: “What do you want to recite, Sir? These are a couple of 16-17-year-old kids. You want to marry them? Do you think that’s right? Honestly?” The judge retorted: “What do you mean it’s not right. He’s of age and she’s of age. There is no need for you to decide for them at all. They’re both mature. We have “Hadith” (pronouncements attributed to the Prophet Mohammad or Shi’a Imams that can be considered legal tenets) that a girl can be married starting at the age of nine …” And the judge continued with extensive religious talk and again stated: “Well, we have no choice. We’ll marry them.”

My girlfriend’s mother had cardiac disease and was not feeling well. My father told her to go outside. The judge told him: “Who are you to tell this lady to leave the courtroom? Who do you think you are? I can throw YOU out.” My father replied: “She is this girl’s mother and has cardiac disease, why don’t you understand? I’m a doctor and this lady has cardiac disease. What would you do if something happened to her here? Why do you play with people’s well-being?” “I’m not trying to do anything illegal. THEY are the ones who did something illegal. They were strangers and proceeded to have illegal relations in public, in the street, on common property,” the judge said. It was gradually becoming clear to us what they had written in our case file, what had been behind the smiles and the kind faces! {This might be conjecture but since I later did my mandatory military service in the police force, I saw with my own eyes [what was going on] and I realized that people who work in military organizations [and with the police,] try to alleviate their inferiority complex and their less favorable financial situation by belittling and degrading those who are well-off, and by crushing their personalities, thereby making a statement, showing that they are boss at that juncture and that they have the power to do what they please. I remember there was a time when the police force had set aside a period to wage war on drugs. They had sent us to an inspection point near Gorgan. One of the staff was a police officer who he was not officially allowed to confront anyone militarily. What I noticed that day was that this man did not stop cheap cars like Peykan or Pride, but would stop and inspect expensive cars. The interesting thing was that during that same week, at another inspection point, a Peykan 4 by 4 truck had been discovered carrying 700 kilos of drugs. When I cited that example to that officer, he laughed and said: “They do it because they are poor. It’s ok to let them go even if they have something.” Faced with this mindset, I started thinking that, our whole arrest and the entire process was based on the premise and the impression that because of the type of car we had, the clothes I was wearing, or the cell phone I was carrying, that I was an upper class individual out to impress a girl of a lower class and take advantage of her.}

The discussion in the courtroom became heated. The judge told my girlfriend’s mother: “Sister, you are a firm believer in God and the Prophet. Why didn’t you stop your daughter?” She began to become physically ill, so the judge told her to go outside and get some air. He also sent my girlfriend and me out, my father and my girlfriend’s sister remaining in the courtroom. A little later, the judge asked us to go back inside. He had changed my girlfriend’s charge, as if I was the one who had deceived her. She signed a pledge and she was released and sent on her way. I was sentenced to 30 lashes for illegal relations in public, and was sent to the Sentence Implementation Office. Holding the court ruling in our hands, my father and I went to a small shack in the yard. They filled out some papers, gave my father an address, and told us to go to Enqelab Square. My father asked if he had to pay fees and he was told that he would pay for the legal stamps so he could get the deed back. My father asked: “What about the lashes? Do we pay a monetary penalty [as a substitute]?” “No Sir, he’s going to receive those lashes,” he replied. Suddenly my father got very angry and snapped: “What do you mean? He’s a child. What are you talking about?” “No he’s not, he’s not a child, he’s 17 years old and is a grown man,” the man said. I didn’t know what was happening and what we were doing. My father had lost control. We went back to the courtroom. The door was closed and there was a soldier standing guard. There was an office next to the courtroom. We went in and my father started arguing with the employees. One of them calmed him down and said: “Sir, they’re not really going to flog, it’s for show. The truth is that if I send you back in the courtroom right now, things are going to get even worse. Just go there, there are reasonable people there. No reasonable person would whip this kid. This is just a ruling [and it doesn’t mean anything.] if you go back in [the courtroom], you’ll make matters worse.”

We went to the address at Enqelab Square. From the Square, we went toward Ferdowsi Avenue, where right there on the main street, there was a big Judiciary building on the left. We went inside and were given a number, and waited for our turn. We then went into the Implementation room where there were two people in civilian clothes, one of whom gave us a receipt and told us to come back on such and such date for the sentence to be carried out. My father told him that we lived in another town. “You want me to whip him quickly now so you can go?” he said jokingly. My father got upset. “Why do you get upset? I’m just joking. Don’t worry: we'll whip him in a way he'll still be able to sit. I’m sorry but we’re just doing our job. Don’t worry, though, he’s like my own child. I’m not the one who will flog him but the person who will, has a wife and children too; he’s not some reckless driver behind the wheel of a car. Come back in three days,” the man said.

We went back three days later. The same people were in the room. They told my father to stay there while they took me away. “What do you mean?” my father asked. “Don’t worry we won’t eat him,” the man said. He then gave a soldier a piece of paper and told him to take me to Sentence Implementation. The soldier took me to a small room in the far end of the courtyard. There were two or three people outside the room, ahead of me. People would go in the room and would come out another door; and I could see them: one person would come out with a big smile on his face, another would be moaning and groaning. I was scared. The soldier consoled me and told me not to be afraid, that it was nothing. My turn finally came and I went inside. There were four people there: one administered the lashes, another read the ruling, and the other two were sitting in a corner doing their work. As soon as I went in, I begged the guy to hit me slowly. The person reading the ruling asked what my crime was. “It’s written in there,” I said. “What’s the matter, are you ashamed?” he asked. “No, why would I be ashamed?” I answered. “Then let me read the sentence,” he replied. He read it and said: “Quick, quick, lie down, we don’t have time.” I was about to cry. There was something resembling a bed, at the top of which there was a mechanism to tie one’s hands. But they told me: “Just lie down and pull up your shirt. Hold up your hands so we don’t have to tie them and we can do this quickly so you can get out of here.” I took my shirt off and lied down on the bed. The person carrying out the sentence, was holding something resembling a small strap. He administered the lashes from below the neck to the lower back, very lightly and very quickly as if to just go through the motions and do his job.

They then wrote in that same piece of paper the soldier was holding, that in the name of the Holy Koran, the sentence was carried out. They filled out the minutes which I signed. They gave me the file and told me to go back to the first room, which I did. The person there, wrote a few lines to the effect that the sentence had been implemented, then sent us back to the Court’s Sentence Implementation Office. Once there, they wrote in the file that the deed was released and told us to get in touch with the owner so he could pick it up, which we did that same day.

I did not bleed at all. I never tried to look at my back in the mirror to see what had happened. It was just that when I sweat or sat in the car, I would feel a little burning sensation and some itching which bothered me.

I was truly humiliated in this process: humiliated in court, and humiliated because I had to lie down in front of 3 or 4 strangers and be punished. It was truly an awful feeling. I couldn’t believe that this was really happening to me. My pride was wounded, I was humiliated. I was angry and sad for a while, but there was nothing I could do. Like any 17 year old, I would content myself by thinking that I did it for love and so it wasn’t important.


[1] When a car is confiscated, any outstanding tickets or fees shall be first paid in order for the car to be released.