While Emadeddin Baghi has been transferred from prison to hospital, Mohammad Javad Rooh has written a statement asking people not to worry about his lashing sentence, but to think of Saeed Habibi and Emaddedin Baghi.
Women’s rights activists who have also been sentenced to lashes reiterated this in a different way: “We are still outside; think of those who are now in prison and far from their families.”
We all agree that Baghi’s condition is dangerous and that a tragedy is possible at any time, in a manner similar to Ganji’s hunger strike, especially since we know that two weeks ago, during his last visitation, Baghi had lost 20 kilograms. His daughter said he had shrunk to half his size when she last visited him in the hospital. However, it is not right to give up the attainment of one right in exchange for the protection of another right. The attainment of one right does not nullify or take away from the priority of attaining another right.
Those two gentlemen have the right to be free. However, others – such as Mohammad Javad Rooh and women’s rights activists – also have the right not to be lashed, and not to be mentally and physically tortured. Even if they have committed a crime – granted that that they are justly accused and convicted of that crime and the punishment is appropriate – they have the right not be lashed and pay the fine, and not be imprisoned like Maryam Hosseinkhah and Jelveh Javaheri.
I recall the early reform years, when one of the first demands we discussed with the judiciary was to stop passing violent verdicts such as lashing, at least for journalists and intellectuals, and to hand down verdicts that are appropriate to their line of work. Because the reformists’ victory was still fresh, and accepting reason was still the norm not the exception, this reasonable demand was implemented immediately thanks to efforts by the judiciary’s pragmatic faction. The lashing verdicts were halted, even though they remained part of the penal code.
The life of the reform movement, however, was short. Another time came and more violent verdicts were handed down. The source of both is the same place: hands that are above the law. The result is, once again, lashing, flogging the human flesh, but in reality, killing the human soul. One day the lashes come down on fragile bodies of women activists, who want nothing other than equal rights, and one day they come down on bodies of young men and women, who want nothing other than freedom to think and write.
So let us say: I and we are worried about everything, prison, lashing, torture, and most importantly, the suppression of human soul, the jewel of creation.