Iranian police can reportedly be seen in a recently released video hitting a group of young handcuffed men over and over in the back of an open truck bed as they parade them through streets of an unidentifiable city, even forcing one of the men to eat leaves.
The date and location of the video posted online is unclear, but the footage shows the four Iranian men being harassed by men dressed in all black and masked faces, who appear to be police officers. While pulling the boys hair and hitting them over and over again, they officers force the boys to make animal noises, after one tells them "I want to see you bleat."
At one point the young men are told by their harassers to keep their heads up so that the crowds can see them, and to shut their mouths. As they are being slapped, largely on the side of the head and the ear, they yell "I eat shit" and one yells "I was wrong!"
A masked man tells them "I want to see you bleat," in reference to a sound a sheep makes. At one point, the camera pans to see the traffic ahead, and men in similar black outfits can be seen with the word "Police" scrawled in white on the back of their uniforms.
According to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, there has been some public outcry over the incident and Iranian media outlets have covered the issue. Local outlet Farhikhtegan said the boys were probably "neighborhood thugs," but that the policemen's acts were illegal.
Various forms of criminal punishment are carried out in public in Iran, from hangings to amputations. According to the United Nations special rapporteur, more than 800 people had been executed in Iran between June of 2013 and October of 2014, an "alarming" increase from previous years. In many instances the convicted are hung from cranes, where it can take up to 20 minutes to die. Cutting someone's hand off in public is a form of punishment for thieves, although the practice has reportedly become a rare occurrence.
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