Judiciary officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran have reported that 140 individuals have been executed in the province of Khorasan on charges of “smuggling addictive drugs.” Human rights defenders on the other hand contend that on average two people per day have been executed during this period, thus raising the number of secret executions to higher than what the judiciary authorities proclaim.
In an exclusive interview with Rooz, Iran’s 2003 Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi said, “According to confirmed information that we and other rights defenders have received from inside prisons in Iran, which includes names of individuals who have been executed, the number of executions is almost two times as many as have officially been announced.”
Second Official Acknowledgement
The deputy director for social affairs and crime prevention at South Khorasan province’s judiciary recently announced that 140 “smugglers of addictive drugs” had been executed in 2010, and added, “The Revolutionary Court acts with full force against those who engage in the trade of addictive drugs.”
Mehr news agency reported that during an achievement recognition ceremony for outstanding staff of the South Khorasan province’s judiciary, deputy director Mohammad Bagher Bagheri made the announcement about the execution of 140 individuals and said that some 38,000 files had been processed in this regard, which he asserted indicated “comprehensive planning, action and management by judiciary managers of the province.”
In recent weeks, officials of Iran’s judiciary have made several announcements of unannounced executions in 2010. Prior to this, Mashhad city public prosecutor Mahmoud Zoghi had announced that a number of executions related to crimes for illegal drugs had been carried out in the Vakilabad prison of Mashhad since the beginning of the current year, of which only three months had passed (the Iranian calendar year begins on March 21).
The revelations of secret executions a year after they had taken place come as human rights activists assert that secret executions are carried out at this very moment in prisons across Iran.
In the most recent case, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran announced that 25 prisoners had been secretly and en-masse executed on July 3 (Tir 12) at Ghezelhesar prison in the city of Karaj on drug related crimes, and called for the end of this “deadly trend” while also demanding the announcement of the details of the executions that have taken place over the last two years in prisons across Iran. The ICHRI has also lodged its protest regarding the absence of reports by judiciary officials over the high number of executions.
They Are Lying
Speaking to Rooz about the delayed announcement of these executions by Iranian authorities, Shirin Ebadi, the head of a group of human rights attorneys said, “The regime denies these executions because it pursues a policy of not being transparent and or publicly announcing its actions. But since defenders of human rights pass the names of executed individuals to different organizations, particularly the United Nations, the Islamic republic is now forced to reveal some of these to prevent further disgrace.”
Ebadi continues, “If these executions took place legally, if the judiciary was fair, the relevant court would have made (the appropriate) announcement and informed public opinion of its work. But when people are secretly executed you can be sure that the judicial process was not fair and the defense rights of an accused person were disregarded. When the executions were leaked outside and passed on to other countries and international organizations, the regime was forced to accept some of its responsibilities. But I will stress that even at this level of disclosure they are lying. In other words the number of executions is greater than what they claim.”
Human rights groups have repeatedly expressed their concerns about secret executions in Iranian prisons, particularly Vakilabad prison in Mashhad.
Prior to the announcement of the secret executions by judiciary officials of the Islamic republic, Amnesty International’s annual report published in April/May confirmed the execution of 252 individuals in Iran on drug related charges in 2010. The report adds that another group of 300 individuals were also executed in the same period based on its “reliable received sources.” AI also reports that the Iran has confirmed execution of 190 individuals in the country in the January – June period, but it adds that another 130 individuals had been executed in addition to that without being announced.
The Visit of the Special UN Rapporteur
The rapid increase in the official number of executions in Iran and the news of secret executions has raised the concerns of other governments and human rights organizations.
The Un Human Rights Council recently issued a resolution calling for a report on the condition of human rights in Iran for which it appointed a special rapporteur. Ahmad Shahid, the former foreign minister of Maldivia was subsequently appointed to this position, which prompted different responses from officials in the parliament and others in Iran.
Two principlist Majlis deputies Zohre Elhian and Mohammad Karim Abedi, judiciary chief Sadegh Larijani, and foreign ministry spokesperson Ramin Mehmanparast are among those who opposed the visit of the special UN envoy on human rights.
Ebadi pointed out that even if the Islamic republic does not allow Shahid to come to Iran, he will have other sources such as individuals outside Iran or even those inside Iran – with due regard for their safety – to fully learn of what is going on inside Iran. “He will also benefit from the reports that I and other human rights defenders have prepared in this regard,” she said.
In recent days some human rights activists have suggested that should the UN rapporteur not be allowed to travel to Iran, he should visit neighboring countries such as Iraq where a large number of victims of human rights violations in Iran reside and interview the victims. This way they can also assist in connecting the rapporteur to victims inside Iran who may be interested in presenting their experience in such violations. She also requested all individuals who had knowledge of human rights violations in Iran to present their reports and documents to Mr. Shahid without any exaggeration.