Iran hanged 11 members of the Baluch minority on drug charges within 48 hours, a nongovernmental organization said Wednesday, raising alarm that the community is disproportionately targeted in a surge of executions.
Nine Iranian Baluchis and two Baluchi citizens of neighboring Afghanistan were hanged from early Sunday to early Tuesday, Norway-based Iran Human Rights said.
The group added that it recorded a total of 61 executions across Iran in July as Iran presses ahead with a surge in capital punishment that has now seen the country put 423 people to death so far this year.
Activists accuse Iran of using capital punishment to spread fear throughout the population in the wake of the protest movement that erupted last September over the death of Mahsa Amini, 22. The Iranian Kurdish woman had been detained for allegedly flouting the Islamic republic's strict dress rules for women.
IHR said that while members of the Baluch minority — who adhere to the Sunni strain of Islam and not the Shiite branch predominant in Iran — make up 2% to 6% of the population, they accounted for a third of all executions in 2022.
Eight Baluch men were executed on drug charges in the main prison of Zahedan, the capital of Sistan-Baluchistan province, from July 30 to August 1, it said.
Another Baluch man was executed on similar charges July 31 at a prison in Birjand city in the eastern province of Khorasan, it added.
Mohammad Arbab, 30, and Asadollah Amini, 32, two Afghan nationals of Baluch ethnicity, were secretly executed in Zabol Prison in Sistan-Baluchistan on July 30 and 31, it said.
The number of executions in Iran on drug-related charges dropped dramatically in 2018 following amendments to the anti-narcotics law but has surged again since 2021.
IHR said almost half of the 256 people executed on drug-related charges in 2022 were members of the Baluch community.
After Amini's death in Tehran, protests also took place in Zahedan, fueled by long-held anger over discrimination of the Baluch minority and initially sparked by the alleged rape of a teenage girl by a police officer in the region.
Rights groups say the demonstrations were targets of deadly crackdowns by the security forces in Iran's poorest region.