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

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

During a conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs