The wife of Hashem Zeinali, a 70-year-old man who was given a lashing and prison sentence after peacefully demanding information about his missing son while standing outside Evin Prison, is hoping that the Appeals Court will overturn the ruling.
“My husband, who’s an old man, has been condemned to imprisonment and floggings for a charge that has no basis in reality. He was standing in front of Evin Prison with a portrait of our missing son Saeed, and the authorities prosecuted him on the charge of participating in a gathering in support of Mohammad Ali Taheri, the imprisoned leader of a spiritual group,” Akram Neghab told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. “I already lost my son. I can’t tolerate seeing my husband jailed and flogged.”
While holding a portrait of his son Saeed Zeinali, Hashem Zeinali was arrested in front of Evin Prison on November 21, 2015 along with a group of 13 other peaceful demonstrators who were mostly followers of Mohammad Ali Taheri. Even though some of the demonstrators, including Hashem Zeinali, were not connected to Taheri, everyone who was apprehended outside of Evin Prison that day was sentenced to 91 days in prison and 74 lashes by Branch 1060 of the Tehran Criminal Court on February 22, 2016 for “disturbing the public order by participating in an illegal gathering in support of the head of the Erfan-e Halgheh sect.”
The United Nations has declared lashing a cruel and inhuman punishment tantamount to torture.
Saeed Zeinali was a 22-year-old computer science student at Tehran University when he was arrested at his home on July 10, 1999, five days after student protests—brutally repressed by the government—erupted across university campuses in Iran. Three months later, during a short telephone conversation, Saeed Zeinali told his parents he was well, but he has not been seen or heard from since.
“I have not heard from my son for 17 years. I know I won’t get any answers, but I will not stop asking what happened to him until my last breath,” Akram Neghab told the Campaign.
Iranian officials have denied having any knowledge about Saeed Zeinali’s arrest even though his parents insist they saw him arrested by security agents at their home. In January 2016 Judiciary Spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei said: “so far no document has been found showing that [Saeed Zeinali] was arrested.”