Executions, Imprisonment Raise Fears that Situation in Iran is Worse than Ever

 Two men were hanged on Saturday in the main prison of the southeastern province of Balochistan, both on the vague religious charge of Mohareb, or “enmity against God.” On Sunday, four individuals were hanged in Adelabad Prison in the city of Shiraz and two in Shahab Prison in the city of Kerman.

Others executions may follow directly, or may have already taken place without being acknowledged or reported to outside sources. The wife of one of the inmates executed on Sunday was also incarcerated and her fate is as yet unknown. Meanwhile, six prisoners in the main prison in the northeastern city of Uromiyeh were transferred to solitary confinement to await execution on drug charges as early as Monday.

Not all executions in Iran are publicly acknowledged by the government, leaving some uncertainty about the exact number of annual executions. Government figures differ from the figures of independent activist groups and the Iranian resistance. But the NCRI reports that since Hassan Rouhani became president of Iran in July 2013, more than 1,200 individuals have been executed.

The Iran Human Rights Documentation Center and Iran Focus determined in January that 64 people had been executed in only the first three weeks of 2015, setting a pace that could result in more than 1,000 executions by the end of the year.

The Iranian regime’s secrecy about its own executions also extends to its treatment of prisoners serving non-capital sentences. According to a report issued on Monday by the Human Rights Activists News Agency, political prisoner Behnam Ibrahimzadeh, a labor and children’s rights activist, has not been heard from for 22 days, since being transferred to solitary confinement.

His virtual disappearance is reminiscent of a number of other political prisoners serving their sentences or merely awaiting trial. Among these is Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian, who was held in isolation for months after his arrest in July, and whose alleged offenses have still not been publicly disclosed.

Ibrahimzadeh’s case also points to trends of arbitrary imprisonment and criminalization of political speech. He is in the fourth year of a five year sentence for collusion against national security, based on his activist affiliations. But rather than being released at the conclusion of that five year sentence, he is slated to serve an additional nine years for charges levied against him while he was in prison, stemming from a violent raid by security officials on the ward of Evin Prison where Ibrahimzadeh and many other political prisoners are held.

Ibrahimzadeh’s tribulations relate to activism for human rights, but crackdowns on activism also extend to causes that are not such direct indictments of the Iranian regime. HRANA also reported on Monday that there were some indications of security forces beating protestors in the city of Ahwaz as they called for action to curtail an out-of-control air pollution problem.

All of these trends in the Islamic Republic are apparently leading more and more former supporters of the Iranian Revolution to question whether things are actually worse than they were under the regime deposed by that revolution, according to an article published Monday by The National.

This is owing not only to the severity of repression under the current clerical regime, but also to chronic mismanagement and a lack of economic progress. “Faced with ever-growing nostalgia for the Shah’s era,” the article says, “defenders of the revolution are desperately trying to justify 36 years of failings in development, welfare and freedoms.” It goes on to say, “In practice, there is no revolution to speak of in Iran anymore; only another oppressive political regime harsher than the Shah’s ever was.”