News / Middle East

    UN Alarmed at Spike in Executions in Iran

    FILE - An Iranian exile shouts slogans to protest against executions in Iran during a demonstration in front of the Iranian embassy in Brussels on December 29, 2010.
    FILE - An Iranian exile shouts slogans to protest against executions in Iran during a demonstration in front of the Iranian embassy in Brussels on December 29, 2010.
    Lisa Schlein
    The U.N. Human Rights Office says it is alarmed at the reported spike in executions in Iran since the beginning of the year.  The office says at least 80 people have been executed, but some reports put that figure as high as 95.

    The U.N. agency says most executions in Iran are for drug-related offenses.  Spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani says these crimes are non-lethal and, as such, do not meet the international law standard of  “most serious crimes,” for which the death penalty can be applied.

    “We have repeatedly made our concerns known to the government, privately and in public, and there were some encouraging signs last year where political prisoners were released, etc.  So, we were hoping and we were encouraged by these signs, but it appears, at least in the past seven weeks that in fact executions have been scaled up," she said.  

    Shamdasani says a number of people have been executed in secret and at least seven people in public this year.  The most common method of execution is by hanging.  She says the U.N. Human Rights office is particularly concerned about the reported execution in secret last month of two members of the minority Ahwaz Arab community.

    She says the two men, Hadi Rashedi and Hashem Sha’bani, did not have a fair trial as stipulated under international law.  She says they reportedly were denied access to a lawyer and their families for the first nine months of their detention.  She says they allegedly had been tortured to force them to confess. 

    Shamdasani tells VOA the two men were sentenced to death on charges of “enmity against God,” corruption on earth, and acts against national security.

    “The problem with this charge of “enmity against God” is that it is so ill-defined and so broad that it can be applied to a whole host of offenses," she said. "I am sure blasphemy would fall within that as well.  But, it can be applied to a whole host of other offenses as well.  And, this is why it is particularly problematic…The fact that they have been executed raises serious questions, in addition to the questions that we usually have about application of the death penalty in Iran on drug offenses, on offenses that do not meet the high threshold - the fact that they hail from this minority group and that they worked for cultural organizations is further cause for concern.” 

    The U.N. office reports at least 500 people were executed in 2013, including 57 in public.  However, some sources think that figure may be as high as 625.  It says among those executed were political prisoners, members of ethnic minority groups, and 28 women.

    U.N. human rights advocates are urging Teheran to immediately halt executions and to establish a moratorium on the death penalty.

    You May Like

    Post-White House, Obamas to Rent Washington Mansion

    Nine-bedroom home is 3 kilometers from Oval Office, near capital's Embassy Row; rent estimated at around $22,000 a month

    Red Planet? Not so much!

    New research suggest that Mars is in a warm period between cyclical ice ages, and that during Ice Age Maximum over 500,000 years ago, the red planet was decidedly ice, and much whiter to the naked eye.

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: chukwuemeka Ukor from: lagos Nigeria
    February 22, 2014 1:45 AM
    Most of these unnecessary killings by the iranians govts i wondered when it will stop. Thats why they wouldn't have misunderstood salmon rushdie about his book on satânic verses.or when former U.S. President called a region of evil axis.stop,i said stop.

    by: Muhamad Zabran from: Iran/Turkey
    February 21, 2014 6:13 PM
    all executions in Iran are against Sunni Arabs. Iran knows that in a confrontation with US/Israel the Iranian regime will be decapitated and the Arabs inside Iran will massacre the Iranians. so, they are killing the Sunnis preemptively - but this has been going on for many many years... in the Middle East this is not news...
    In Response

    by: Seamorgh21 from: California
    February 21, 2014 9:49 PM
    Hey Mo, did you make up these lies yourself or did someone tell you these lies?

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora