Iranian authorities have escalated the use of the death penalty as a tool of repression against ethnic minorities, executing at least one ethnic Arab, 14 Kurds and 13 Baluchis and sentencing at least a dozen others to death since the start of the year, two human rights groups say.
Amnesty International and Abdorrahman Boroumand Center said in a statement on March 2 that at least 94 people were executed in January and February amid “horrific sexual violence and other torture allegations,” in what they called a “chilling execution spree.”
“The Iranian authorities are carrying out executions on a frightening scale. Their actions amount to an assault on the right to life and a shameless attempt not only to further oppress ethnic minorities but to spread fear that dissent will be met with brute force, either in the streets or in the gallows,” said Roya Boroumand, Executive Director of Abdorrahman Boroumand Center, an Iranian human rights organization.
The Islamic Republic executed an Arab man, Hassan Abyat, in Sepidar prison in Khuzestan province on February 20 and a Kurdish man, Arash (Sarkawt) Ahmadi, in Dizel Abad prison in Kermanshah province on February 22, following “grossly unfair” trials, the statement said.
It quoted informed sources as saying that interrogators subjected both men to torture and other ill-treatment. Their forced “confessions” were broadcast on state media in an attempt by the authorities to “vilify them and justify their executions.”
Abyat was sentenced to death twice in relation to the death of an agent from the paramilitary Basij force in 2011 and alleged membership of an “opposition group,” Amnesty International and Abdorrahman Boroumand Center said. He had denied any involvement in the death. After subjecting him to enforced disappearance, interrogators beat him with cables and administered electric shocks to his testicles, according to a witness.
Ahmadi was sentenced to death in connection with his previous membership in a banned Iranian-Kurdish opposition group and the death of a member of the security forces.
Meanwhile, six Arab men were informed on February 14 they had been handed death sentences for alleged “membership in illegal groups,” in a case dating back to 2017, Amnesty International and Abdorrahman Boroumand Center said.
According to human rights activists, the torture-tainted “confessions” of Ali Mojadam, Moein Khanfari, Mohammad Reza Mojadam, Seyed Salem Mousavi, Seyed Adnan Mousavi and Habib Deris were used to convict them in a group trial in Ahvaz, the capital of Khuzestan.
And between December and January, at least six young men from the Baluchi minority were sentenced to death in separate trials in relation to protests that took place in the province of Sistan and Baluchestan in September.
Shoeib Mirbaluchzehi Rigi, Kambiz Khorout, Ebrahim Narouie, Mansour Hout, Nezamoddin Hout and Mansour Dahmaredeh, who has a physical disability, were sentenced for arson and stone-throwing, in contravention to international law which prohibits the use of the death penalty for offences that do not meet the threshold of “most serious crimes” involving intentional killing.
Sources said interrogators subjected the men to torture and other ill-treatment, including sexual violence, to force them to make “confessions.” They stuck needles into Narouie’s genitals and beat Dahmardeh so severely that they broke his teeth and nose.
Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, urged the international community to pressure the Islamic Republic to establish a moratorium on executions, quash unfair convictions and death sentences and drop all charges related to the peaceful participation in protests.
“We also urge all states to exercise universal jurisdiction over all Iranian officials reasonably suspected of criminal responsibility for crimes under international law and other grave violations of human rights,” she said.