Iran’s Alarming Execution Rates Continue to Soar, Raising Concerns Over Human Rights Violations

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Norway-based Iran Human Rights (IHR) has issued a stark warning about the increasing number of executions in Iran during the first half of 2023. According to IHR, at least 354 people were hanged in the country during this period, representing a 36% surge compared to the same period in 2022. The rights group has expressed grave concerns that Iran is employing the death penalty as a means to instill fear and panic among its population following the widespread protests that erupted in September of last year. The catalyst for the demonstrations was the custodial death of Mahsa Amini, who had been arrested by the morality police for a perceived violation of hijab regulations.

Critics argue that Iran’s response to the protests has been marked by an escalation in executions, with non-Persian ethnic groups, particularly the Sunni Baluch minority, disproportionately affected. Shockingly, IHR found that 20% of all executions targeted members of this minority. Of the individuals executed, a striking 206 were convicted of drug-related offenses—a staggering 126% increase compared to the same period in 2022. The director of IHR, Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, argues that the death penalty is being wielded as a tool to generate societal fear and prevent further protests.

He further highlights that those most affected by the executions are individuals from marginalized communities, predominantly low-income drug defendants. The situation is dire for women as well, as six of them were among those executed during this period. Additionally, two men were publicly hanged, further illustrating the severity and cruelty of these punishments. The mounting number of executions reflects a disconcerting trend, with Iran surpassing all countries except China in terms of execution rates.

Amnesty International has noted that no official data is available for China, making Iran the world’s second-largest executioner. With Iran’s execution rates reaching their highest level since 2015, human rights organizations and concerned individuals worldwide are calling for immediate action to address these grave violations. The international community must exert pressure on Iran to halt the escalating use of the death penalty and to uphold the fundamental principles of human rights and due process. Failure to do so would allow the Iranian government to continue its oppressive tactics and perpetuate an environment of fear and injustice.

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