“The retaliatory execution of 16 Baluchi prisoners on Saturday, in revenge for the deplorable killing of 14 border guards, is in total breach of international law. The latest executions are even more shocking as these Baluchi prisoners were not even connected to the insurgents’ attack”, said Karim Lahidji, FIDH President. “This further vindicates our assertion that the situation of human rights has not changed in Iran since the taking of office of Hassan Rouhani”, he added.
Mohammad Marzieh, the prosecutor of the provincial capital Zahedan, confirmed that the executions were in direct retaliation for an attack that led to the killing of 14 border guards. A day after the executions, Fars News Agency reported that only 8 of the 16 victims had actually been members of a rebel group known as ‘Jondollah’ (Army of God) while the other eight had been drug smugglers.
Several of the prisoners had been in detention since early 2010, where they had allegedly been tortured. Some of them, if not all, had been reportedly deprived of due process and sentenced to death in unfair trials without access to a lawyer. Executions were carried out 10-12 hours after the attack. Hence, the authorities did not even comply with the existing regulations, which require the officials concerned as well as the victim’s lawyer to be notified of the time of the planned execution at least 48 hours in advance.
Furthermore, two Kurdish political prisoners, Habibollah Golparipour and Reza Esmaeili (aka Elham Mamadi), who had been convicted of moharebeh (fighting God), were executed in West Azerbaijan province on 25 and 26 October, respectively. The implementation of the death penalty has clearly increased in recent months and has already, by the end of October, exceeded the minimum figures of executions recorded in 2012. At the present rate, the yearly number of executions in Iran is bound to exceed far beyond 600 by the end of December.
Background information on targeted death sentences
Ethnic communities in Iran, including the Azeris, Arabs, Baluchis, Kurds and Turkmen experience discrimination in the enjoyment of their political, civil, economic and cultural rights. Political and cultural activists of ethnic communities often face arbitrary arrest and prosecution and are subjected to torture, and grossly unfair trials before the unconstitutional Islamic Revolution Courts.
In some cases, they are accused of collaboration with opposition groups operating from abroad, charged with moharebeh and sentenced to death. In particular, the Arabs in the southern Khuzestan province, the Baluchis in the south-east, and the Kurds in western Iran have been disproportionately targeted for executions.
The authorities have used the retaliatory mass executions against the Baluchi prisoners before as, for example, in December 2010, when 11 Baluchi prisoners were executed after an explosion in a mosque in the port city of Chabahar. As of 28 October, at least 20 Kurdish activists are known to be on death row. Beside the execution of at least 8 Arab activists in 2011 and at least 4 in 2012, death sentences of 9 others have reportedly been upheld in 2013 so far.
For more information, see: Death penalty in Iran: A State terror policy: http://www.fidh.org/en/asia/iran/death-penalty-in-iran-a-state-terror-policy-14075