By Hamid Enayat
Several international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and Global Solidarity against the Death Penalty, proclaimed October 10 as “International Day against the Death Penalty”. October 10 is the International Day against Execution. Execution has historically been a tool of power and of dictatorships to intimidate and surrender of the people. But in Iran, there are gallows raised daily for the survival of Iran’s religious dictator.
Given the sheer volume of government censorship and the prohibition of the activities of independent human rights groups in Iran, although it is not possible to report an accurate and complete report on the human rights situation, particularly executions in Iran, but according to international institutions, Iran has the highest number of execution of its citizens in the world per capita.
On April 1, 2009, Amnesty International released its annual report on the use of the death penalty in year 2018, saying: “At least 253 Iranian citizens were executed during the one-year period (January 1 to December 31, 2018). Iran still executes more than one-third of all executions registered worldwide, and 195 others have been sentenced to death. Among those executed the execution of six children, as well as 13 public executions must be noted.”
According to the report, more than 72% of executions in Iran are not reported by the government or the judiciary, which they call “secret” executions (Amnesty International, April 9, 2019).
According to Amnesty International’s annual report, Iran still ranks second in the world in terms of number of executions and number one in terms of population! It is also a record holder of arbitrary arrests, given the existence of torture and lack of due process. Arbitrary arrests, detention and ill-treatment, depriving defendants of a lawyer in a legal proceeding, spread of factions within the government in the judicial process, forced confessions of the defendants under torture, extrajudicial and secret executions characterize medieval judicial in Iran.
The most shocking executions in Iran
“One of the most shocking executions in Iran was the execution of Zeinab Sekaanvand, who was only 17 years old at the time of her arrest. She was sentenced to death in an unjust trial for the murder of a spouse who allegedly abused her with domestic violence. She reported that she had been tortured during her detention to “confess”. (Amnesty International press release)
Responding to the horrific news that 24-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman Zeinab Sekaanvand was executed early this morning in Urumieh central prison, West Azerbaijan province, Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said:
“The execution of Zeinab Sekaanvand is a sickening demonstration of the Iranian authorities’ disregard for the principles of juvenile justice and international human rights law. Zeinab was just 17 years old at the time of her arrest. Her execution is profoundly unjust and shows the Iranian authorities’ contempt for the right of children to life.” (Amnesty International, 1 October 2018)
The story of the execution of children is a tragedy in Iran. All governments around the world, however, have ratified conventions requiring under no circumstances to execute juvenile offenders – those who were under 18 at the time of the crime.
While international conventions such as the rights of the child set the age of punishment for both sexes to be 18 years, the medieval clerical regime has set the age of punishment for boys as 15, and for girls as 9. Iran is one of a handful of countries that still issues death sentences for juvenile offenders, but implements them after they are 18.
The report by the Special Rapporteur on the Execution of Children and Juveniles states: “In 2018, seven executions of child offenders were reported, and there are currently about 90 people awaiting execution, all of whom were under the age of 18 at the time of the alleged crime. Among the latest cases, on April 25, 2019, two 17-year-old teenagers Mehdi Sohrabi Far and Amin Sedaghat were executed at Adelabad Prison in Shiraz, Fars province. These two were reportedly forced to confess under torture … The execution of child offenders is absolutely forbidden and must end immediately. “(United Nations site, August 16, 2019)
Amnesty International said in a statement, “Iran: The Last Executioner of Children,” that 24 children have been executed in Iran since 1990 pf whom 11 were children under the age of 18.
Record of executions during the Rouhani’s tenure
The human rights situation in the two terms of Rouhani’s presidency reflects the deteriorating human rights record of the mullahs over the past 40 years.
Although a precise record of executions has never been officially announced by the mullahs, but lawyers and human rights sources have reported more than 3600 executions during Rouhani’s tenure. According to government press reports, at least 110 people were executed in Iran in the first six months of the year.
96 women were executed during Rouhani’s presidency
The number of women executed during Rouhani’s presidency reaches 96. Seven of these women have been executed in the three-month period since the beginning of summer. It should be noted that the actual number of executions is much higher because the majority of executions in Iran are secretly carried out, far from the public eye, where only perpetrators and agents can witness.
The Perspective for Iran of Tomorrow
If there are still execution gallows to maintain the rule of the religious dictator in Iran, it is because the Iranian people are resisting. A resistance in progress. Resistance units have spread throughout Iran. The Iranian resistance, led by a woman, encompasses all religious and ethnic minorities in Iran, advocating the abolition of the death penalty.
Maryam Rajavi, an anti-fundamentalist Muslim woman, says: “Our plan is to revive friendship and tolerance. Our plan for the future is to abolish the mullahs’ laws. We reject the Criminal Code and other human rights violations in this regime. We consider the rules of retribution inhumane. We defend a law based on forgiveness and compassion and humanity. “
*Hamid Enayat is an Iranian human rights activist and analyst based in Europe.