“The insatiable appetite of the Velayat-e Faqih [Guardianship of the Jurist] regime for hanging women, men, and particularly youths in public gets more and more every day… This regime commits such heinous and brutal crimes in front of the international community and despite 51 condemnations by the United Nations,” wrote the late Nader Rafieinejad, a member of the Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), in his book titled ‘Execution, the Ayatollahs’ Means for Ruling’ more than 15 years ago.
Every year, the international community, especially human rights defenders and groups, marks October 10 as the World Day Against the Death Penalty. Activists honor the day as an opportunity to advocate for the abolition of the death penalty and raise awareness of the conditions and circumstances that affect prisoners with death sentences.
To make a world free of cruel punishments, numerous NGOs and governmental bodies, including Amnesty International, the European Union, the United Nations, and the Council of Europe, declared their support for the day’s purpose.
In our October 10 report for 2020, we shed light on the Iranian regime’s record of executions in the first half of 2020. According to the report, authorities had executed at least 134 inmates under ‘moderate’ President Hassan Rouhani. This number surpassed 267—becoming twice as large —as of December 31, 2020.
The victims included:
- Thirteen political prisoners and protesters.
- Ten women.
- Five juvenile offenders.
- Two prisoners with security charges.
- One journalist.
Furthermore, prison guards tortured several inmates to death, including three juvenile offenders in different jails.
The Iranian regime also hanged hundreds of people under drug-related charges while the Parliament [Majlis] had already passed a bill banning the execution of drug-related charges due to domestic and international condemnations against the death penalty.
In a ruthless crime, the ayatollahs’ hanged juvenile offender Mohammad Hassan Rezaei at the Lakan Prison in the northern city of Rasht on December 31, to end 2020 with one more execution. He had been arrested at the age of 16 and remained behind bars for 12 years until his execution.
According to Iran Human Rights Monitor, Iranian authorities have hanged at least 267 inmates in 2021. “The high number of Iran executions in 2021 signals worsening rights condition,” wrote Iran HRM on October 7, sounding alarm bells about the regime’s constant use of the death penalty.
Indeed, executions in Iran increased following the appointment of Ebrahim Raisi, who is notorious for the extrajudicial executions of political prisoners in the 1980s. According to the human rights association No to Prison- No to Execution, since August 5, more than 54 prisoners, including four women and four Afghan nationalities, have been hanged under the Raisi government.
#EbrahimRaisi's name is synonymous with awful crimes against humanity.
Will the west still appease such a criminal? pic.twitter.com/2uvKRPNkVx
— Iran News Update (@IranNewsUpdate1) August 5, 2021
However, being involved in executing 30,000 political prisoners in 1988 and these 54 executions are not Raisi’s mere crimes. He also upheld hundreds of death sentences during his more than two years as the Judiciary Chief.
Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Eje’i, the current Judiciary Chief, is currently pursuing Raisi’s path and has increased issuing and implementing death penalties to show his loyalty to the religious tyranny.
#Iran's dictator Ali Khamenei appoints notorious judge Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Eje'i as Judiciary Chief.
He was sanctioned by @eu_eeas for #HumanRightsViolations in April 2011.
His appointment is an inverse confession to the Islamic Republic's vulnerability versus #IranProtests. pic.twitter.com/SRyWm38at7
— Iran News Update (@IranNewsUpdate1) July 1, 2021
As Mr. Rafieinejad had mentioned, the ayatollahs in Iran practice the death penalty to ensure the survival of their ruling system. In recent years, particularly since 2017, the autocrats faced a new wave of nationwide protests. They witnessed how public hatred against their socio-economic failures turns social grievances into political desires and anti-establishment slogans.
To quell the people’s enthusiasm for freedom, justice, and equality, Iranian authorities recklessly use lethal force against defenseless demonstrators. However, they resort to the gallows to nip any objection in the bud.
In such circumstances and on the World Day Against the Death Penalty, the international community should hold Tehran to account for frequent executions. World powers should not ignore the horrible human rights situation in Iran for short-term economic benefits, and they should prioritize human rights values in any talks with Iranian officials, observers believe.