A group that monitors rights violations in Sistan and Baluchistan has documented 627 cases of killings of ethnic Baluch in the southeastern Iranian province over the past year.
Haalvsh said in a recent report that its count of verified cases represents only half of the actual number of killings that occurred between March 2022 to March 2023.
The report said that 545 of the victims were executed by the Islamic Republic or killed by government or plain-clothed agents. As many as 121 of them lost their lives during protests in the provincial capital, Zahedan, and Khash on September 30.
Sistan and Baluchistan is home to Iran's Sunni Baluch minority of up to 2 million people.
Human rights groups say ethnic minorities in Iran face widespread discrimination in the judicial system and their every day lives, with the authorities curtailing their access to education, employment, adequate housing and political office.
In a report published earlier this month, Amnesty International and Abdorrahman Boroumand Center said that Iranian authorities have escalated the use of the death penalty as a tool of repression against ethnic minorities.
At least one ethnic Arab, 14 Kurds and 13 Baluch had been executed since the start of the year, and at least a dozen others had been sentenced to death, the report said.
According to Haalvsh, at least 182 Baluch have been executed in 23 prisons across Iran over the past year, with most of the executions occurring outside Sistan and Baluchistan.
It said 81 percent of the documented executions were related to drug offences. People were also hanged after being sentenced to death on murder and security/political charges.
Shir Ahmad Shirani of the Haalvsh organization told IranWire that in many cases, those executed were sent to the gallows after a flawed judicial process.
Shirani emphasized that those executed, being both Baluch and Sunni, faced double discrimination.
"We have received many reports of judges treating Baluch and Sunni defendants differently in courts outside Sistan-Baluchistan province," he said. "Even before they had a chance to present their defense, these people were told by the judge that they would be executed."
According to Haalvsh, at least 243 unarmed citizens who had not committed any crime were killed by direct fire from official government agents and "unknown armed people."
Shirani described these "unknown armed people:” "They often have a history of criminal activity and pose a threat to the safety and security in Baluchistan. Some of them are affiliated with drug cartels that maintain close ties with the security apparatuses and carry out these actions under their supervision.”
The killers enjoy total judicial immunity, Shirani said.
The Bloody Fridays
Haalvsh said that security forces killed at least 103 people after firing live ammunition, metal pellets and teargas at protesters, bystanders and worshippers in the restive city of Zahedan on September 30, 2022.
The group also documented the killing of 18 people on the next Friday, November 4, during peaceful protests in the city of Khash.
"There are other people who we know have been killed, but for various reasons, they could not be identified,” Shirani said.
Haalvsh said at least 82 Baluch who were forced to carry fuel across the borders with Pakistan and Afghanistan to make a living were killed over the past year.
"Unfortunately, 57% of these citizens were burned alive in their cars because they were being chased and due to poor road infrastructure and indiscriminate firing by the military forces. The mostly low-quality cars of these poor citizens had accidents or lost balance and caught fire," Shirani said.
"It should be emphasized that these 82 people are primarily victims of policies that have left people with no viable economic opportunities and have forced them to become fuel carriers,” he concluded.