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Executions in Iran: Activists call for solidarity

Iran's judiciary has ramped up executions recently

Iran's judiciary has ramped up executions recently

Human rights organizations have been sounding the alarm over the high rate of executions in Iran. On Saturday, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada al-Nashif is set to fly to Tehran to investigate the executions and violations of women's rights.

On Monday alone, four Kurdish men were put to death after the Supreme Court rejected appeals. Iranian state media reported that they had been charged with planning an attack ordered by Israel's Mossad agency.

The families of those sentenced have denied the accusations. On social media, they wrote that the detainees had been denied their legal rights, for example to inspect documents, throughout the entire proceeding. They also said that the four men were neither permitted to see their lawyers nor their families. The families maintain that the men's confessions had been obtained through torture.

'A wave of executions'

"Counting the four executions on Monday, the number of completed death sentences in January has risen to 67," Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, Director of the Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights (IHR), told DW.

"We are facing a wave of executions in Iran," he said, adding that, since the beginning of Israel's war with Hamas in October, "three people are executed each day on average. Meanwhile, the number of people executed for drug-related crimes is 20 times that of three years ago."

He believes that the disinterest displayed by the international community and organizations such as the United Nations has emboldened Iranian leaders to silence discontented Iranians with intimidation and force.

"It's as if the human rights situation and high number of executions in Iran were simply not a priority for Western states," he said. "The corrupt and incompetent political apparatus of the Islamic Republic, which has been unable to find appropriate responses to everyday problems the population faces, has been taking advantage of this."

Prisoners on hunger strike

On Tuesday, all female political detainees in Iran's notorious Evin Prison went on hunger strike in protest of the recent wave of executions. They were joined by 10 male political prisoners in Ghezel Hesar prison who also went on hunger strike on Tuesday.

Human rights organizations such as Iran Human Rights have called upon the international community to end its silence on the "horrific" wave of executions. The organization also called upon al-Nashif to postpone her trip to Tehran.

Upon inquiry, Marta Hurtado Gomez, a spokesperson for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, told DW that the human rights situation in Iran was serious. She highlighted the importance of discussing these concerns, and responded to the question of what the High Commissioner for Human Rights could do in Iran by saying: "We need to find out if there are ways to improve the human rights situation in Iran."

Death sentences in the dark

The long list of Iran's death row inmates still includes many political prisoners. Iran does not officially publish the number of those sentenced to death, and their families are often threatened to discourage them from making the death sentences of their loved ones public.

Many executions only become known years later, when those left behind summon the courage to speak out.

In the wake of the protests with the slogan "woman, life, freedom" that rocked the country in 2022 and 2023, the judiciary had been eager to execute many of the protesters arrested, said Amiry-Moghaddam.

However, "political pressure from the West was high. The world was watching closely to see what was happening in Iran," he said. "Those in Iran responsible for human rights violations were sanctioned. That slowed down the justice system for a while."

But now, he says, the judiciary has ramped up executions. Just last week, 22-year-old Mohammad Ghobadloo, who had been arrested during the countrywide protests, was executed. Farhad Salimi, a Kurdish man who had been imprisoned for 14 years, was also executed.

From Jordan, Iranian Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi called upon al-Nashif to cancel her visit to Tehran in protest of the recent executions. Alternatively, she suggested the High Commissioner could also arrange to speak with death row inmates.

This article was translated from German.