By Kaveh Ghoreishi, Rooz Online
After a lull in the number of executions announced by the official Iranian media in the month of Ramazan and during the Non-Aligned Summit conference in Tehran earlier this year, the country's judiciary has returned to its practice of high rate executions. During last week alone, 27 individuals were officially announced to have been executed while unofficial figures say as many as 47 were executed. A significant number of these hangings were carried out in public prompting human rights activists to argue that the regime's need to create fear among the populace has increased.
Mahmoud Amiri Moghadam, the spokesperson for the Iran Human Rights Organization which has been cataloging the executions in Iran told Rooz, "It appears that more executions are on the way. Normally, these numbers rise towards the end of the Christian calendar, particularly the number of executions that are carried out in public."
Executions: A tool to Create Fear
According to the official Vahed Markazi Khabar (Central News Unit belonging to the state) of Isfahan a prisoner whose identity was not revealed was hanged last Sunday at Isfahan's central prison. As reported by Tabian News which quoted the public relations office of the Isfahan judiciary, this person had been sentenced to death for the possession of 64 kilograms of crack.
Three days earlier, on November 8th, two hangings were carried out in Shiraz's Adelabad prison while 5 individuals publicly executed in the streets of the city, all of them on drug related charges.
On November 7th, Khorasan province officials and official news media quoted Gholam-Ali Sadeghi, the general and revolutionary public prosecutor of Mashhad that a prisoner had been hanged in Mashhad's Vakilabad prison for drug trafficking offenses.
According to official news sources on November 7th, 11 prisoners were executed in prisons around Tehran while another 4 were publicly hanged in Shiraz. At the same time, the official website of Fars province also announced the execution of 4 individuals in the Koozegari field of Shiraz.
Putting these figures together raises the total number of executions carried out around Iran to stand at 24, as announced by official Islamic republic news sources, all on drug related charges. Nine of these executions took place in public.
Mahmoud Amiri Moghadam, the spokesperson for the human rights organization says the number of public executions and hangings this year compares to those of last year. In 2011, at least 65 people were executed or hanged in Iran, 59 of which were announced by the official media. This figure is three times the number of execution carried out in 2010, which stood at only 19 that were carried out in public. In 2009 only 9 executions were carried out in public in Iran.
According to official figures 48 cases of public hangings have been carried out in Iran since the beginning of January.
Moghadam contends that public hangings are the principal method of the Islamic republic to create fear in the country and that "As the domestic and foreign crises of the regime, along with public discontent expand, so does the regime's need to instill fear in the hearts of the people. One should recall that the greatest threat to the regime in Tehran is public discontent."
Public executions and hangings are a peculiarity of Iran and a few other countries that differentiate executions that are carried out in other parts of the world.
47 Cases of Executions Not Announced
Because the real numbers of executions in Iran are never published by official media or government sources, it is not easy to know of the exact number of such cases that are carried out. Moghadam says, "We regularly receive reports of secret executions which we cannot announce because of our inability to independently verify them. But such cases will be included in our annual report after verification.
Because Iran is considered to be among countries with the highest use of illegal drugs, a large number of individuals who are involved in the drug trade are arrested, imprisoned and face execution.
According to public figures, more than 80 percent of the 687 people that were executed in 2011 in Iran are related to drug related charges.
The Islamic republic also tops the list in the number of its annual executions. The average number of executions in 2011 stood at more than 2 per day, putting the country only second to China, which has a far larger population. Iran also has a horrendous record in the number of inmates awaiting execution.
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