Iranian Judiciary Continues to Cover Up Secret Executions; 140 Birjand Executions Confirmed

Jul 21, 20110 comments

While Mohammad Bagher Bagheri, Social and Crime Prevention Deputy of South Khorasan Province Judiciary, recently announced that 140 inmates with drug trafficking charges were executed in 2010, so far no judicial officials have made any statements about why the Judiciary and the media refrain from making announcements about the cases despite such a high rate of executions. Over the past year, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has repeatedly cited local sources about unannounced executions whose statistics are never announced by the Iranian Judiciary. Mohammad Bagheri has not spoken about these executions in details and has not given a breakdown of execution dates within 2010. There has been total silence about similar executions in this province in 2009 and the current year. (Mohammad Bagheri’s announcement on Fars News Agency website) On 6 February 2011, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iranreported about “secret and group execution of dozens of prisoners,” convicted of drug trafficking charges, inside Birjand Prison. Birjand Prison is located in the city of Birjand, the provincial capital of South Khorasan. (Link to the news on 6 February) During a press conference on 31 January 2011, the Islamic Republic’s Prosecutor General, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei, said: “Some illegal drug traffickers were executed at dawn today inside Birjand Prison.” (Source, Fars News Agency) Ever since the day this announcement was made, the official Iranian sources, including the Office of the Prosecutor General and the South Khorasan Province Judiciary, have not reported any news, details, or numbers of the drug-crime executions on 31 January inside Birjand Prison. Considering the secrecy and lack of precise dates of executions and the number of inmates executed, serious questions are raised about whether the 140 people mentioned were the only ones executed, or whether this number represents just a fraction of the people who were sent to gallows in that prison. Local sources have told the Campaign that executions of drug traffickers did not start in 2011, but in 2010, and they have been carried out continuously up to now. Beside the execution of drug traffickers, other executions have also been carried out inside Birjand Prison. For example, in October 2010, the Head of the Judiciary announced that three people, whom he called “hoodlums”, were executed in South Khorasan. (Source, Reja News) But even these kinds of executions that are announced sporadically, never show up in the Prosecutor’s Public Relations announcements in this province. Judicial Authorities have also failed to announce the widespread and secretive executions that took place inside Mashad’s Vakilabad Prison and in Ghezel Hessar Prison in Karaj. The Birjand executions were also carried out suddenly and without the knowledge and presence of the convicts’ families and lawyers. The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran considers Mohammad Bagher Bagheri’s recent statements as another piece of evidence about the widespread secret executions inside Iranian prisons and particularly the Birjand Prison. Over the past several days, Mashad Prosecutor Mohammad Zoghi also accepted the existence of widespread, secret, group executions inside Mashad’s Vakilabad Prison, reporting of five sets of group executions during the first three months of the [Iranian] year (March 21-June 20, 2011). (Link to news) A review of statements made by Iranian Judiciary authorities and the various reports about executions inside Iranian prisons indicate that widespread, secret, and group executions are regular occurrences in several prisons such as Mashad’s Vakilabad Prison, Taybad Prison, Orumiyeh Prison, Birjand Prison, Ghezel Hessar Prison in Karaj, as well as Karoon Prison in Ahvaz, and despite the reported cases, no exact information about these executions has been presented. The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran condemns the Iranian Judiciary’s secrecy about the executions of hundreds of people without regard for due process and proper sentence implementation, and demands transparency and sufficient explanation in this area. The Campaign also believes that the dimensions of these executions go beyond what has been marginally announced or accepted by Iranian authorities. The Campaign believes that the “execution therapy” of drug traffickers as a means for confronting the drug abuse crisis in the country has been extremely ineffective, and has only created fear and intimidation in the society.