Sunday, 29 Jan 2023

Iran regime carries out 500 ‘sham’ executions in bid to ‘create fear’

Iran protests: Scenes of civil unrest against government

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Iran has executed more than 500 people this year, an increase of almost 200 compared to last year, a human rights organisation has claimed. As the Iranian security forces continue to brutally crack down on protesters fighting against the Islamic theocracy, an increase in the practice of capital punishment following “unfair trials” suggests the regime is hardening its stance on dissent. Five more death sentences were announced on Tuesday for the killing of a member of the security forces, bringing the total number of executions arising from the protests up to at least 11. 

The death penalty is not uncommon in Iran, with 333 people executed last year, but Amnesty International has expressed concern that the practice has now become an illegal tool to stamp down on dissent. 

They argued that the “rising executions may be a reflection of the increasing dominance of hardliners over Iran’s politics”. 

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, elected last year, is a former prosecutor who played a central role in the judiciary’s execution of thousands of opposition supporters in the late 1980s. 

And despite some Iranian officials suggesting the regime ought to heed the demands of the hundreds of thousands of protesters and relax its laws, Raisi has pledged to put an end to the dissent by any means necessary. 

On Sunday, four Iranians were executed for security-related charges, including collaborating with Israeli intelligence services, in Rajai Shahr Prison, northern Iran. 

Hossein Ordukhanzadeh, Shahin Imani Mahmoudabad, Milad Ashrafi Atbatan and Manouchehr Bejandi were executed within seven months of arrest.

Information obtained by Iran Human Rights suggested a further two prisoners were executed the following day, though their identities were unknown. 

Director of Iran Human Rights, Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, said of the executions: “These individuals were sentenced to death without due process or a fair trial behind the closed doors of the Revolutionary Court, their sentences lacked all legal validity. 

“These executions are intended to create societal fear and divert public attention from the Islamic Republic’s intelligence failures.”

Amnesty International has alleged that the death penalty is now being handed down to Iranian civilians despite offences not meeting the threshold for the “most serious crimes”, or acts even internationally-recgonised as crimes at all. 

Two men earlier this year were sentenced to death for “insulting the Prophet”, while officials announced that six people were sentenced to death in November for “enmity against God” and/or “corruption on earth”. 

Fifteen other people are on trial for “enmity against God” before a Revolutionary Court in Karaj, Alborz province. 

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Two teenagers, Sajad Sanjari, arrested when aged 15, and Arman Abdolali, arrested when aged 17, were also executed in August and November. Sajad Sanjari’s family weren’t told about the execution until a prison official asked them to collect his body.

Amnesty International subsequently accused the Iranian regime of using the death penalty “as a weapon of repression against protesters, dissidents and ethnic minorities”.

International attention on the issue comes as at least 28 people arrested in connection with the nationwide protests are facing capital punishment at the time of writing following “sham trials”. 

The uprisings in Iran began after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died after being detained by the regime’s morality police for not wearing her hijab properly. 

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