Brazen in the face of protests, Iran has executed 55 people so far

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Paris: In a move that is considered to create fear as protests shake the country, Iranian authorities have executed 55 people this year, said Norway-based Iran Human Rights (IHR), adding that a lack of reaction from the international community risked lowering “the political cost of executing protesters”.

Terming every execution by the Islamic Republic as political as the main purpose “is to create societal fear and terror”, IHR said that at least 107 people are still at risk of execution over the demonstrations after being sentenced to death or charged with capital crimes, it said.

The number of the death penalty has seen an upward trend in the last few years with at least 504 people executed in Iran alone in 2022 while the actual figure was said to be more than double the number revealed, according to various media reports.

Experts say security forces have shown “a flagrant disregard for human life,” after a protest movement against the Islamic republic under Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has subsided since November last year.

With Iran’s use of the death penalty surging in recent years, IHR said that out of 55 executions in the first 26 days of this year, four people were executed on charges related to the protests, while the majority of those hanged were executed for drug-related offences.

“To stop the state execution machine, no execution should be tolerated, whether they be political or non-political,” said IHR director Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam.

Concerned over the mass violation of human rights of protesters who have been arbitrarily deprived of their liberty for the sole reason of exercising their legitimate rights to freedom of opinion and expression, association and peaceful assembly, United Nations experts had urged Iranian authorities in November last year to stop using the death penalty as a tool to squash protests.

According to reports, thousands of peaceful protesters have been arrested by the authorities since 16 September, including many women, children and youth, lawyers, journalists, human rights defenders and activists. Many of the arrested individuals reportedly remain in incommunicado detention.

State-sanctioned killing?

Various activists have accused Iran of using capital punishment as an instrument of intimidation to quell the protests which erupted in September following the death of the Mahsa Amini, 22, who had been arrested for allegedly violating the country’s dress code for women.

UN rights chief Volker Turk has said Iran’s “weaponisation of criminal procedures” to punish demonstrators “amounts to state-sanctioned killing”.

On Friday, Amnesty said three men sentenced to death in December had been subjected to torture “including floggings, electric shocks, being hung upside down and death threats at gunpoint”.

They were convicted of inciting arson and vandalism during protests in September in Mazandaran province in Iran’s north, Amnesty said in a statement.

Javad Rouhi, 31, suffered torture that included being “sexually assaulted by having ice put on his testicles”, Amnesty said.

Mehdi Mohammadifard, 19, was kept for one week in solitary confinement in a mice-infested cell and was raped, leading to “anal injuries and rectal bleeding, which required hospitalisation”, it said.

Arshia Takdastan, 18, “was subjected to beatings and death threats, including having a gun pointed at his head if he did not ‘confess’ in front of a video camera”.

Alarming upsurge in executions

Human rights groups have yet to publish figures on executions in Iran for 2022 but as per IHR, more than 500 people had been hanged in early December. While according to its data, at least 333 people were executed in 2021, a 25 per cent increase compared to 267 in 2020.

IHR said that according to its latest count, security forces had killed at least 488 people, including 64 aged under 18, in the nationwide protests. Of the 64 children, 10 were girls, it added.

On December 8, Mohsen Shekari, 23, was executed in Tehran  for wounding a member of the security forces, while Majidreza Rahnavard, also 23, was hanged in public in Mashhad on December 12 on charges of killing two members of the security forces with a knife.

On January 7, Iran hanged two men in the northern city of Karaj: a karate champion and a martial arts coach. The punishment, the regime said, was for the crime of moharabeh, or “waging war against God

On January 14 that it executed British-Iranian dual national Alireza Akbari after being sentenced to death on charges of spying for Britain. He had been arrested more than two years earlier.

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Brazen in the face of protests, Iran has executed 55 people so far
Brazen in the face of protests, Iran has executed 55 people so far
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