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

Beloved Lion Killing Sparks Virtual, Real Life Outrage

Twitter, as usual, was epicenter for anger directed at Palmer, with some questioning his manhood, calling for him to be released into the wild More

Video Booming London Property Market a Haven for Dirty Money

Billions of dollars from proceeds of crime, especially from Russia, being laundered through London property market, according to anti-corruption activists More

Video Scouts' Decision on Gays Meets Acceptance in Founder's Hometown

One former Scout leader thinks organization will move past political, social debate, get back to its primary focus of turning boys into good citizens More

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.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Scouts' Decision on Gays Meets Acceptance in Founder's Hometown

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs