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

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' 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.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs