Iran's courts earlier this week sentenced three men to amputation who were caught stealing, Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN) and Fox News reported.
Two of the prisoners, Mehrdad Teymouri, 30, and his brother, Shahab Teymouri, 35, were reportedly arrested in April 2019 and found guilty for taking part in several robberies in the area. Their appeals were dismissed by the court earlier this week.
They are currently awaiting punishment, which includes having four fingers chopped off, at the Orumiyeh Central Prison.
A third individual facing a similar situation is Arash Ali Akbari, 32, who was sentenced by the Second Branch of the Urmia Court to have his right hand amputated.
The punishments, referred to in Arabic as hudud, are extreme punishments based on a radical interpretation of Sharia Law. They were rarely applied in the past and their use today is the source of controversy wherever they are carried out.
Despite the controversy, no efforts by human rights groups, both local and international, have managed to prevent similar punishments from happening. Traditionally, punishments which are classified as hudud cannot be pardoned and are carried out in public.
In recent years, a growing number of such punishments taking place in Iran have been brought to light, drawing significant, yet not enough international attention.
In October 2019, Amnesty International publicly addressed a separate case of amputation carried out by Iran that included a man convicted of theft having his finger removed by the state. Saleh Higazi, the organization's deputy Middle East and North Africa director called the punishment "an abhorrent form of torture,” and said that "premeditated maiming and mutilation of individuals is not justice."
But most cases remain unknown, as Iranian authorities tend to keep them clandestine in order to avoid unwanted attention from human right advocates and the international community.
"If there is some pressure from outside, Iran is less likely to execute this sentence, but failure to pay attention to this big crime will lead to the normalization of these punishments. That worries all of us," an Iranian human rights advocate told Fox News.
The same advocate also said that these kinds of punishments are becoming more frequent. "It seems the judiciary has not carried out this sentence in years, but now it is [coming back], and it is a tragedy," he said.
At this point however, it's impossible to know how many people suffer state-imposed amputations in Iran every year.
Iranian authorities have reportedly defended these kinds of punishments as being the most effective way of deterring and subsequently preventing theft and similar crimes.