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Two Iranian photographers sentenced to 25 and 50 lashes

Medieval punishment imposed because they criticized a book of photos published by the Qazvin city authorities

Reporters Without Borders is outraged to learn that two photographers based in the city of Qazvin, Khalil Emami and Abass Alipour, have been sentenced to 25 and 50 lashes respectively for criticizing a book of photos published by the Qazvin city government.

The online newspaper Sedayeqazvin reported on 13 August that a Qazvin court imposed the medieval sentences in response to a complaint by the local prefect's cultural adviser against the two journalists and Sedayeqazvin, which published their articles.

The first article criticizing the book was written by Emami, who is very well known. After the cultural adviser insulted the article, Alipour responded in a second article. The cultural adviser then announced that he would lodge a complaint against both of them and Sedayeqazvin unless the newspaper apologized, which it refused to do.

“Many countries are abolishing jail terms and other harsh sentences for press offences but the Iranian justice system continues to inflict medieval punishments for absurd reasons,” said Reza Moini, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Iran desk.

“Condemning two photographers to be whipped is indicative of the Iranian authorities' contempt for journalists. We call for these sentences to be overturned and we urge Iran to comply with international agreements by ending such 'cruel, inhuman and degrading' punishments and recognizing 'the inherent dignity (...) of all members of the human family'.”

This case is unfortunately not isolated. At least 50 journalists and netizens have been sentenced to this kind of inhuman treatment in the past five years. They include Marzieh Rasouli, who writes on arts and culture for several newspapers. Held since 8 July, she was sentenced to 50 lashes and two years in prison. Arash Honarvar Shojai, a theologian and blogger held since 28 October 2010, was sentenced to 50 lashes and four years in prison. He is seriously ill and suffering from a lack of adequate medical care in detention. Sayeed Haeri, a netizen serving a two-year jail term in Tehran's Evin prison since December 2012, was also sentenced to 74 lashes.

Iran is one of the world's most repressive countries as regards freedom of information. It is ranked 173rd of 180 countries in the 2014 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders.

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