Iran’s surging number of executions amidst protests are a cause for ‘deep concern’, says the UN
The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), on 4 April, denounced the rising numbers of executions in Iran. The executions included those of people connected to protests across the country.
The UNHRC approved a resolution that voiced:
deep concern at the reported surge in the number of executions, including of individuals sentenced to death in relation to their alleged involvement in the recent protests.
The resolution passed with 23 of the council’s 47 members voting in favour, while 16 abstained. Eight opposed the text, including China, Cuba, Pakistan, and Vietnam. The resolution also extended the mandate of the UN special rapporteur on the rights situation in Iran for another year
Iran’s executions intend to undermine protests
Police arrested Mahsa Amini on 13 September 2022 for allegedly breaking strict codes on wearing her hijab. She died three days later. Her cousin told Sky News that police “tortured and insulted” her in that time. Amini’s death sparked nationwide protests, which continue more than six months later.
The UNHRC resolution echoed strong international condemnation over the country’s crackdown on the protest movement. The Iranian state has executed four people over the protests, while Iranian security forces have killed at least 537 people in their crackdown, according to Iran Human Rights (IHR).
At least two of the protesters were allegedly convicted using coerced confessions. On 9 December 2022, the Canary wrote that:
Iran’s Fars news agency carried a video report of [Mohsen] Shekari talking about the attack while in detention, which IHR described as a “forced confession” with his face “visibly injured”.
And just a few days later, on 13 December, we reported that:
Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights (IHR) said that images have shown authorities beat [Majidreza] Rahnavard in custody, and then forced him into a purported confession – broadcast on state media.
However, rights groups warned that executions on all kinds of charges are on the rise, arguing that this seeks to intimidate society into not protesting. IHR said Iran put 309 people to death since September on non-protest charges, including 180 for drug-related offences. These happened without a murmur of dissent from the international community.
IHR director Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam told Agence France-Presse that:
These are the ‘low-cost’ victims of the regime’s execution machine
Nobody knows them, their executions don’t receive any condemnation – but the aim is the same; to spread fear and prevent more protests.
Crimes against humanity
The UNHRC’s resolution called on Iran to “take all necessary legislative, administrative and other measures” to ensure no one is executed for “offences that do not meet the threshold of the most serious crimes”.
Iran must also ensure that no executions are carried out “for alleged offences committed before the age of 18 years”, and that sentences are only handed down by “courts that are competent, independent and impartial”.
Beyond executions, the council deplored “systematic discrimination and violence based on gender, ethnicity, religion or belief or political opinion” in Iran.
It urged authorities to guarantee and uphold the right to freedom of expression and opinion, and to address “systematic impunity”.
The resolution also extended the mandate of special rapporteur Javaid Rehman. In a report presented to the council last month, Rehman warned Iran had committed serious violations since Amini’s death. He warned some of these acts – including widespread murder, imprisonment, torture and sexual violence – could amount to crimes against humanity.
Featured image via Taymaz Valley/Flickr, resized to 770*403
Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse
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