Drug crimes reportedly account for the vast majority of executions in the Islamic Republic, which has the highest per-capita rate of execution in the world. Both these statistics have been subjects of substantial criticism from international activists and the United Nations, which notes that drug crimes do not rise to the level of severity that allows a nation to justify capital punishment.
What’s more, the process of Iranian jurisprudence and the frequency of politically-motivated arrests in Iran make it difficult to be confident that all victims of mass-executions are guilty of their crimes. Indeed, the brother of one of the most recently executed Karaj inmates insists that his brother was neither a user nor a dealer of drugs and that he was essentially declared guilty by association.
HRANA reports that still more prisoners have been moved into solitary confinement in Karaj, generally a sign that their execution may be imminent. No more details are available thus far, so it is unclear how many more people are facing hanging and when this latest round of executions might stop.
Overall, the rate of executions has only increased throughout the country since the execution of the supposedly moderate president Hassan Rouhani. This trend, presumably motivated in part by a crackdown on alleged drug offenses, is only one example of the ascendance of arch-conservative initiatives in the Islamic Republic in recent months. That same trend can be seen in escalating discrimination against minorities and women and in new state censorship measures.
The censorship trend has extended into confrontations with public performers as government officials and their religious conservative supporters have forced the cancelation of various music performances and other such events. IranWire reports that the city of Mashad’s Friday prayer leader Imam Ahmad Almolhoda this week joined other clerics in calling for a complete ban on public music performances.
Almolhoda went on to call for religiously-motivated artists to become more active in Mashad and to attempt to make themselves socially dominant over their secular competitors. But the cleric acknowledged that such religious artists are currently only a minority, implying awareness of and anxiety toward social trends leading to an increasingly educated, pro-Western, and anti-fundamentalist population.
The prevalence of secular art and music reflects a more general social tendency that the conservative powers-that-be appear to be working to repress by way of the various new conservative initiatives of which the recent executions and concert bans are a part.