“Iran intensifies executions to sow terror”.

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Two human rights organizations, Iran Human Rights (IHR) and Together Against the Death Penalty, have reported a 75% increase in executions in Iran in 2022. The organizations documented at least 582 hangings, denouncing what they called a “killing machine” that aimed to instill fear in the population. The rise in executions followed mass anti-government protests that began in September 2022, after the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old who was arrested for allegedly violating Iran’s strict dress code. The movement was violently suppressed, resulting in over 522 deaths and nearly 20,000 arrests. The report suggests that 100 detainees are on death row or facing capital charges, and four people have been executed so far in connection to the dissent. However, most of last year’s executions were for criminal reasons, not strictly political ones. The NGOs in a joint statement said that the death penalty had been used as a tool of intimidation and oppression by the Iranian regime to maintain the stability of its power.

The report also highlights other human rights abuses, such as security forces using combat weapons against demonstrators, deliberately blinding protesters by firing at their faces, and widespread allegations of rape and sexual assault by officials in detention centers. The death penalty is dispassionately used against Iran’s ethnic and religious minorities, such as Kurds, Turks, Arabs, and Balochis. The Baloch minority accounted for 30% of all executions despite making up only 2 to 6% of the population. The NGOs also noted that the number of executions for drug trafficking increased sharply, accounting for nearly half the total number recorded last year, double the amount in 2021 and ten times that of 2020.

The organizations denounced the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) for its inaction and called for the abolition of the death penalty for crimes related to drug trafficking as an indispensable condition for future cooperation between UNODC and Iran. The IHR director, Mahmood Amiry Moghaddam, urged the international community and civil society to actively show their opposition each time a person is executed in Iran to stop the “death machine” put in place by the Iranian regime.

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