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  • Can you imagine being strapped to a tree and whipped 80 times for just drinking a little

  • alcohol?

  • What about having a foot removed after you were forced into a confession for stealing

  • something worth a few dollars?

  • How about being stoned to death because someone said you cheated on them?

  • Or losing your head because you were accused of being a modern-day sorcerer?

  • These punishments may sound ridiculous, but they have all happened, and continue to happen

  • around the world today.

  • Let's start with Iran, a country where it's illegal to consume booze.

  • Not too long ago, a young man was indeed strapped to a tree and whipped 80 times, causing considerable

  • damage to his back.

  • His crime was being found at a wedding drinking alcohol when he was 15 years old.

  • This is what Amnesty International had to say about the punishment:

  • No-one, regardless of age, should be subjected to flogging; that a child was prosecuted for

  • consuming alcohol and sentenced to 80 lashes beggars belief.”

  • Still, worse things have happened in recent years in Iran, and not always for what most

  • would deem significant crimes.

  • Take for instance the case of six Iranians that published a video of themselves dancing

  • to Pharrell Williams' songHappy”.

  • They called the video, “Happy we are from Tehran”.

  • It was supposed to be uplifting and patriotic.

  • But that's not how the courts saw it.

  • They described it asdamaging to society.”

  • The six people who appeared in the video, three men and three women, were sentenced

  • to one year in prison and 91 lashes each.

  • To understand this, you should know that around 100 crimes in the country are punishable by

  • whipping.

  • The net is a wide one, with the list of offenses including theft, assault, adultery, vandalism,

  • and the one any partygoer might be accused of, breach of public morals.

  • Iran may have become slightly less strict in recent times, but Amnesty International

  • reported that in 2017, a journalist was sentenced to a whipping for incorrectly stating how

  • many motorcycles had been confiscated by city cops.

  • Amnesty International also wrote about a case in which two people got 100 lashes for being

  • in an intimate relationship without being married.

  • In 2016, 35 young people, both males and females, were arrested in Qazvin Province and sentenced

  • to 99 lashes each.

  • Their crime was drinking and dancing at a graduation party.

  • You might wonder just how it feels to be lashed.

  • A young woman who was arrested after attending a birthday party went on record and described

  • the feeling.

  • This is what she said: “With the impact of the first lash, I jumped

  • out of my seat uncontrollably.

  • I was so shocked that even my tears would not drop.

  • I wanted to scream, but I could not even control my voice.

  • Every time she hit me hard, she would ask me to repent so that God would forgive me.”

  • But things could still be worse.

  • In 2016, a man was sentenced to forced blinding in Iran.

  • It was truly a case of an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.

  • This punishment, though, was for a very, very severe crime involving the man pouring acid

  • on someone.

  • We doubt he had much support from the public, although human rights groups will often point

  • out that some people don't receive fair trials.

  • Then you have the punishment of amputation in Iran.

  • This happened in 2018 at the central prison in Mashhad city in Razavi Khorasan province,

  • where a guillotine-like device was used to remove a man's hand.

  • Six years earlier he'd been arrested for stealing sheep and other valuables from villagers.

  • Iran was roundly criticized for this, but countered by saying forced amputation wasn't

  • a form of torture.

  • A spokesperson for the government also said it was the best deterrent for stopping thieves

  • and was alsoculturally and religiously justified”.

  • According to an Amnesty International report, from 2007 to 2017 215 were sentenced to amputation

  • and at the time of this video, 125 of them had been carried out.

  • Iran doesn't generally publish details about such things, but the stories still often come

  • to the surface.

  • Human rights organizations in 2021 reported that there were currently eight cases of people

  • waiting to get their hands or fingers chopped off for the crime of theft.

  • They also stated that the victims receive no anesthetic and are usually the poorest

  • and most vulnerable of society.

  • Human rights lawyers have also said that at times the confessions have been made after

  • police torture.

  • According to the Iranian penal code, what will be amputated is weighed against the particular

  • crime.

  • So, if it's just a first-time theft, the person may lose four fingers.

  • This is seen as lenient because that person can at least use the thumb and palm to manipulate

  • objects.

  • A worse crime or repeat crimes could result in the loss of a hand or even a foot.

  • So how does it feel?

  • One man, named Mohsen Sabzichi, described his ordeal like this:

  • The device was covered in blood; no disinfection at all, nothing.

  • The device was a guillotine.

  • They tied my hand under it and hit the knob.

  • I was watching as my fingers fell to the ground.”

  • Another man named Reza Safari said after he lost his fingers and he was free, he couldn't

  • go anywhere without people crowding around him since he wore the mark of a thief.

  • He said it was impossible to find work because of this, and hunger drove him to steal another

  • time.

  • He was arrested again and sentenced to amputation of his left foot.

  • Then there are the worse crimes, such as murder.

  • But in Iran, serious crimes also include same-sex relationships that could be punishable up

  • to death.

  • This hasn't happened for a while, but human rights groups have said somewhere between

  • 4,000 and 6,000 people were executed in the country for same-sex relations after the year

  • 1979.

  • What about stoning to death, does that still exist in Iran?

  • According to human rights groups, the answer is yes and there are currently people on death

  • row with a stoning sentence hanging over them.

  • It's not certain right now though, if that's what they'll get.

  • According to that same report, the last instance of stoning was in 2018 after two women had

  • been found guilty of adultery.

  • Mohammad-Javad Larijani, the chief of Iran's Human Rights Council, defended the sentence

  • in 2010 by saying at least the victims have a chance of pulling themselves out of the

  • hole they've been placed in.

  • Still, reports have said that even if that happens, they will be thrown back in.

  • The stones are supposed to be small to make the ordeal last a while, with two hours being

  • the most someone will usually survive.

  • Article 110 of Iranian law also states two men engaging in penetrative sex can be sentenced

  • to death and it is the judge who will decide what kind of sentence is carried out.

  • Amnesty International wrote that in 2007 two men were executed by being thrown off a cliff,

  • although they'd both been convicted of forcing a young man into sexual acts.

  • We can't find any other recent instances of this kind of sentence being handed down.

  • Another issue Iran has been criticized for is executing people who are not yet adults.

  • In 2006, a 16-year old girl was hanged for what was called, “crimes against chastity.”

  • Hercrimewas being abused by a 51-year old man, and became a global controversy.

  • Unfortunately, as you'll now see, Iran is not alone in committing brutal acts of violence

  • against people it deems criminals.

  • Reports state that in 2020 the leading countries for executions were China, Iran, Egypt, Iraq,

  • and Saudi Arabia, followed by the United States.

  • All over the world, executions were down 26 percent, which might have had something to

  • do with the global pandemic but also a sign of the times.

  • There was a huge decrease in Saudi Arabia, which was down from 184 to 27.

  • But like Iran, in Saudi Arabia country, even adultery can lead to the death penalty, as

  • can same-sex relations, or a smaller crime if it is repeated.

  • Sometimes the kind of execution will be a person losing their head to the sword, with

  • a former Saudi executioner once remarking to the BBC on just how easy the head comes

  • off.

  • It might be painless, but many people see it as a brutal form of punishment that makes

  • us think of centuries gone by.

  • When we think of the wordswitchcraftorsorcerywe also think of a time from

  • the past in which Europeans were burned at the stake for accusations of making deals

  • with the devil.

  • In Saudi Arabia, a person can still be accused of getting in touch with the dark side and

  • they can be executed for it.

  • In 2012, a man named Muree bin Ali bin Issa al-Asiri was beheaded for the crime of sorcery

  • and also adultery.

  • Not long before he lost his head, a woman faced the same fate after she was accused

  • of sorcery and witchcraft.

  • The latest case we could find was the beheading of Mohammed bin Bakr al-Alawi, who in 2014

  • was accused of dealing in the dark arts.

  • Times change though, and hopefully it won't happen again, but it is still part of the

  • law.

  • In 2012, a teenager in Saudi Arabia was sentenced to death for sending messages on his phone

  • defending the pro-democracy movement.

  • Reports said that he was tortured into a confession.

  • He was sentenced to be beheaded and then crucified.

  • Yes, you can still legally crucify someone in Saudi Arabia.

  • That teen is now older and still in prison, so we don't know what will happen to him.

  • It's unlikely he will be executed since some changes in the country now state that

  • anyone convicted under the age of 18 can not be executed.

  • Still, Human Rights Watch has reported that some people still face the death penalty even

  • though their alleged crime was committed when they were still juveniles.

  • As for crucifixion, it seems that particular method hasn't been carried out for a while.

  • In 2009, there was a case involving the leader of an armed gang, who was sentenced to beheading

  • and his headless body to be displayed for three days on a crucifix.

  • Unlike Iran, we can't find any very recent cases of amputation for the crime of theft.

  • In 2011, some thieves were convicted of theft and sentenced to something called, “cross-amputation”,

  • which means losing the right hand and the left foot.

  • We just can't verify if this punishment was carried out.

  • In 2003, an Indian man working in Saudi Arabia got into a fight with another man and that

  • man lost an eye.

  • The Indian man's punishment was to have one of his eyes gouged out, another case of

  • literally an eye for an eye.

  • The victim took pity on him though and pardoned him.

  • One can take the eye, or one can forgive.

  • Forgiveness, though, will often involve the exchange of some cash, too.

  • An eye for a Saudi Riyal just doesn't have the same ring to it.

  • From what we can see, amputation and eye-gouging don't happen anymore in Saudi Arabia, even

  • though technically they can.

  • Stoning could also happen, but it hasn't been carried out lately and likely won't

  • again any time soon.

  • Even public flogging, which was a Saudi favorite in the past, is now off the table as a punishment.

  • Physical pain and dismemberment are horrid, but could some punishments in the West be

  • just as bad or worse?

  • The US gets a special mention for a very specific type of punishment, and that's prolonged

  • time in solitary confinement.

  • Amnesty International reported in 2016 that a newly released prisoner named Albert Woodfox

  • had spent much of his 43 years behind bars in a very small, isolated cell.

  • This is how Woodfox described it: “Solitary confinement is the most torturous

  • experience a human being can be put through in prison.

  • It's punishment without ending

  • I do not have the words to convey the years of mental, emotional, and physical torture

  • I have endured.”

  • It also seems as though he was innocent of his crime, too, since he had his murder conviction

  • overturned three times.

  • Across the pond, Britain's longest-serving prisoner, Robert Maudsley, is still locked

  • up in a specially made bullet-proof glass box at the bottom of the prison.

  • He lives in an incredibly spartan cell, with a concrete bed and one chair.

  • He's not allowed to talk with any other prisoners, ever, and he's been down in that

  • cell of isolation since the early 80s.

  • He once got a message out, saying, “Why can't I have a television in my cell to

  • see the world and learn?

  • Why can't I have any music tapes and listen to beautiful classical music?”

  • He said he'd rather die than be locked up in solitary, but he has no choice in the matter.

  • You wouldn't think the super-clean, shopping-mall-loving island-city state of Singapore would be harsh

  • when it comes to crime.

  • In fact, Singapore is actually really safe and doesn't have much crime.

  • What it does have, though, is caning, a remnant of the British colonial period.

  • Just ask the two German students who in 2015 got whacked three times each with a cane for

  • the crime of vandalism after they spray painted graffiti on the side of a train.

  • It also happened to a 19-year old American in 1994 after he was charged with 50 counts

  • of vandalism.

  • He got six smacks on the backside with the cane, something which became an international

  • incident and actually strained relations between Singapore and the US.

  • Fay later told the media it wasn't all that bad though.

  • He was alone with a nurse and a doctor and it didn't hurt very much, although he added,

  • The first couple of days it was very hard to sit.”

  • But listen to how the American tabloids described it, “Bits of flesh flew, and the prisoner

  • screamed in pain...

  • The canings drew hundreds of people, including a lot of women, and everybody seemed to love

  • it.”

  • This of course, was an outright lie.

  • While isn't an outstandingly awful punishment, but it's a surprising one for such a forward-looking

  • nation.

  • You can also be legally caned as an act of criminal law in Brunei and Malaysia.

  • Stoning is still part of the law in the two African nations of Sudan and Somalia, although

  • like in other nations where it's legal, it doesn't actually happen very much.

  • Human Rights Watch says in Sudan the vast majority of cases involved women accused of

  • adultery, some of whom weren't given very good representation in the courts.

  • Still, it seems the punishment in recent times was overturned in all the cases.

  • It actually has happened in Somalia in recent years when women have been accused of adultery,

  • although the cases we've seen were all carried out by a militant group.

  • This group, al-Shabab, often conducts raids all over Somalia.

  • As for amputations, both countries have this punishment written in law for the crime of

  • theft, although it seems it hasn't been applied in Sudan for quite a while.

  • In Somalia, it's a different story though, because that same militant group has been

  • doing it for some time.

  • One victim said he and four others had one hand and one foot cut off after being found

  • guilty of theft without anything remotely close to a trial happening.

  • He said he was taken out to a field and a machete was used.

  • There was no medical help on hand and no pain relief, although someone helped him to get

  • to a hospital after the fact.

  • There are lots of reports of this happening, with one such report saying four teenagers

  • had a hand and a leg hacked off for the crime of stealing mobile phones.

  • Ok, so what about the most secretive state on the planet, North Korea?

  • What kind of punishments happen there?

  • Well, it's hard to know with it being so secretive and all, but in 2015, there were

  • reports all over the western media about the North Korean defense minister Hyon Yong-chol