The anti-monarchical revolution in 1979 raised the hope for freedom and the establishment of human rights principles in a country that, after several decades of the dictatorship of the Pahlavi dynasty, did not care about the rights of its people.
In the first two years after the overthrow of the Shah’s dictatorship, the Iranian people witnessed limited freedom. Soon after, the policies and behavior of the new clerical regime, introduced by its founder Ruhollah Khomeini, began to change at a fast pace. These policies and behaviors were different in style and rhetoric than had previously been seen during the Shah’s dictatorial reign. The Shah’s policies of restricting freedom of expression, arresting, imprisoning, and torturing his opponents, which had been briefly interrupted by the revolution, were re-established by Khomeini, and then his successor Ali Khamenei. Tens of thousands of political opponents have been killed so far and the mullahs’ killing machine is continuing to take its toll.
People dissatisfied with the petrified rule of the mullahs have often taken to the streets in many cities to protest. The slogans ‘Death to Khamenei’, ‘Death to Raisi’, and ‘Mullahs go get lost’ can be heard at every demonstration these days.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) repressive forces, and the members of the Basij paramilitary force, regularly use tear gas, birdshot, and even live ammunition, to suppress these peaceful protests. Over the years, several people have been killed and many more detained during the protests. However, this is not the entire story. After recent protests, which have shaken the entire regime, the ruling mullahs have decided to increase the number of executions. Human rights activists and political analysts believe that the recent rise in the number of executions indicates that the regime is trying to continue to scare society and send a warning to the people that any opposition will be dealt with severely.
Over the past few days alone, the regime has executed at least 30 people. Many of the executions in Iran are often implemented secretly so the true scale of the problem cannot be fully ascertained.
According to reports, at least 26 people, including two women, have been executed across 11 Iranian provinces since May 17th. Seven of the executed men were Baluch citizens who had been sentenced to death on ‘drug-related’ charges. Khamenei’s criminal government hanged 12 prisoners in Kermanshah, Ilam, Birjand, Ardabil, Khalkhal, Ahvaz, Isfahan, and Amol prisons between June 6 to 8. Twelve Baluch prisoners were also hanged in Zahedan Prison on June 6.
On June 7, two members of the Khuzestan Arab minority, Majid Amouri, and Qadir Naseri were executed in Sepidar Prison in Ahvaz. Majid Amouri, 25, from Ramshir, had resisted regime officers when his brother was arrested in 2018, which led to the death of a police officer. On the same day, a prisoner named Ahmad Baran Zehi was hanged in Dastgerd Prison in Isfahan.
On June 9, Doroud Yousef Beigi was executed in Kermanshah Prison, while Javad Amini was hanged in Amol Prison. The previous day, three prisoners, Sattar Arghandeh, Khosrow Tark, and Kamal Bayani, were hanged in Ilam Prison. Sattar Arghandeh and Khosrow Tark had been imprisoned for 18 years and 7 years, respectively.
On the same day, Baluch citizen Mohammad Reza Naroui was hanged in Birjand Prison, Hojjat Asyabani and Sajjad Takravi were hanged in Ardabil Prison, and another prisoner, Asghar (Hamid) Habibi, was hanged in Khalkhal Prison. Asghar Habibi had spent the last 10 years in prison.
Javid Rehman, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights in Iran, presented his fourth annual report to the UN General Assembly and said that in Iran, there are widespread, ambiguous, and arbitrary grounds for issuing the death penalty, which can quickly turn this punishment into a political tool.
He said, “Last year we saw an increase in the number of executions. Many of those executed were from ethnic minorities, including 40 Baluchis and more than 50 Kurds. The death penalty is widely being implemented, including for those who take part in protests. Judicial procedures lack access to a lawyer and forced confessions are being taken under torture.”
His report further read, “The structure of governance and the lack of an accountability system in Iran have created a culture of impunity that perpetuates cycles of violence, as human rights violations have no consequences for the government or the perpetrators. There seems to be a state policy to intimidate, prosecute or silence those who demand accountability, justice, and truth.”
The increase in the number of executions once again reiterates the need for any policy toward Iran to ultimately integrate human rights concerns and prioritize them alongside other vital security issues. Otherwise, these crimes by the mullahs will continue in Iran.