The number of politically motivated executions are “increasing dramatically” in Iran amid an intensification crackdown on dissent, a U.S.-based rights group said on August 2.
At least 17 mostly young men have been executed by hanging over the past 10 months, in the wake of nationwide protests sparked by the September 2022 death in police custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) said in a statement on August 2.
The Islamic Republic is increasingly using the death penalty “as a tactic of intimidation and retribution against those whom it feels are critics,” it said.
CHRI Executive Director Hadi Ghaemi urged the international community to “be clear with Iranian authorities that continuing its killing spree will result in an extraordinary intensification of the Islamic Republic’s political and economic isolation.”
“Without strong coordinated international action, the world is green-lighting this carnage,” he added.
Seven young men were hanged as of July for participating in last year’s protest movement, while at least 10 other people were hanged for “various political ‘crimes,’” according to the CHRI.
It said that the executions were carried out after “prosecutions and trials characterized by severe violations of due process and fair trial rights,” including denial of the right to counsel or to counsel of choice and the use of torture to extract “confessions” that are then used as evidence against the defendants.
Death sentences were carried out for convictions on charges that are “vague, catch-all terms which are inherently subjective and facilitate the arbitrary application of the death penalty for political motives,” such as “corruption on Earth” and “enmity against God.”
Dozens of other individuals are facing such charges and thus face possible executions, the CHRI warned.
Between January 1 and August 2, there have been at least 423 recorded executions in Iran, primarily for alleged drug-related offenses, according to the Norway-based Iran Human Rights group, suggesting that the number of executions this year is on track to surpass last year’s figure of 582.
Drug-related executions have disproportionately affected individuals from marginalized and economically disadvantaged backgrounds such as members of the Baluch ethnic minority.
“The aim of these unlawful executions is to eradicate dissent and sow fear among the population,” Ghaemi said.
“Governments and international organizations have a crucial role in exerting pressure on the Iranian government to put a stop to this state-sanctioned murder,” he said.