A sawing contraption will cut off four fingers of the right hands of seven men convicted of burglary in Tehran. But the medieval form of punishment is only matched by silence from capitals across the globe.
The government of Iran has arranged to amputate the fingers of seven prisoners convicted of burglary. The men were sentenced to “have four fingers on their right hands completely cut off so that only the palms of their hands and their thumbs are left”.
Grisly images shared on social media show the torture device – a meat slicer look-alike made to cut an offenders’ digits. It is being called the ‘finger guillotine’.
Seven of the eight have been identified as Hadi Rostami, Mehdi Sharafian, Mehdi Shahivand, Amir Shirmard, Morteza Jalili, Ebrahim Rafiei, Yaghoub Fazeli Koushki were sentenced to “have four fingers on their right hands completely cut off so that only the palms of their hands and their thumbs are left.”
The men are currently held at the Greater Tehran Central Prison and the whereabouts of one of them, Hadi Rostami, are unknown after he was transferred from the prison on 12 June. All of them are likely to be transferred to Tehran’s Evin Prison, where reports indicate a finger-cutting guillotine was recently installed and reportedly used on 31 May to amputate the fingers of an eighth prisoner.
An earlier attempt to transfer the men took place on 11 June but was halted due to resistance from fellow prisoners.
Iranian civil society organizations report that at least 237 people, mostly from poorer segments of society, have been sentenced to amputations in Iran between 1 January 2000 and 24 September 2020, and that sentences have been carried out in at least 129 cases.
Government’s across the world are silent. Not a word of condemnation has been heard from any country’s capital or from any of the diplomatic missions in Tehran.
The sole voice of concern has come from the UN’s human rights arm, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), which, on Wednesday voiced a concern over the Iranian government’s plans and urged authorities to call off the planned amputations.
Criticising the plans to use this irreversible form of corporal punishment, OHVHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said: “We are deeply concerned by the likely imminent amputation of the fingers of eight men convicted of burglary in Iran and urge the Iranian authorities to call off the planned amputations.”
She added: “We also call on Iran to urgently revise its criminal penalties to do away with any form of corporal punishment, including amputations, flogging and stoning, in line with its obligations under international human rights law and consistent with recommendations of UN human rights mechanisms.”
Iran’s Islamic regime has faced criticism in the past from the UN for carrying out torture and cruel punishments, with Shamdasani pointing to the fact that the country is party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
“Iran is a State Party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which under Article 7 prohibits torture, or other cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment,” she said.
“As the UN Human Rights Committee, which oversees implementation of the Covenant, has clearly stated, the prohibition of torture, or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment encompasses forms of corporal punishment.”
Image: Amnesty International