Pace of Political Executions Accelerating

Jan 28, 20100 comments

Related: Sudden and Unannounced Execution of Two Political Prisoners (audio interview with attorney) Two More Political Prisoners Hanged

Arash Rahmani Pour and Mohammad Reza Ali Zamani

(28 January 2010) The execution of two men charged with crimes in connection with alleged membership in illegal anti-government organizations, and the announcement of death sentences for nine other persons arrested for protest activities, are part of a growing wave of political executions in the Islamic Republic, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said today. Mohammad Reza Ali Zamani (37) and Arash Rahmani Pour (19) were executed on 28 January. According to his indictment (translated by the Campaign here), Zamani’s conviction for the capital crime of Mohareb, or “taking up arms against God,” was based on his membership in the pro-Royalist group, Anjoman-e Padeshahi-e Iran, and on allegedly meeting in Iraq with United States operatives and receiving money from a source based in the US, all for the purpose of instigating unrest in Iran. According to his lawyer, the other defendant, Arash Rahmani Pour, had been forced to confess to membership in the same group. “Given the high number of political prisoners and the spike in capital punishment since protests began, the threat of a great number of political executions is acute,” according to Aaron Rhodes, a spokesperson for the Campaign. Leading Iranian clerics and politicians have repeatedly called for harsh punishments, including the death penalty, for protesters, and for legal measures to expedite executions. Iranian authorities executed two Kurdish men, Ehsan Fattahian and Fasih Yasamani on 11 November 2009 and 6 January 2010, respectively, after trials that did not meet international standards and a failure to present evidence that linked them to capital crimes. Fattahian’s sentence was imposed by an appeals court. Shirin Alam Holi, a female Kurdish activist, was sentenced to death earlier in January. Around 20 other Kurdish political activists have received death sentences. Neither of the men executed today were involved in the political protests following the disputed June 2009 presidential elections, and the Campaign believes their cases were opportunistically mixed into mass trials of protesters because of their association with highly unpopular insurgent groups. “It may be assumed that these executions were choreographed both to intimidate Iranian citizens from participating in further demonstrations, and to create a mental opening for the execution of demonstrators,” Rhodes said. The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, while opposing the death penalty in all cases, deplores the excessive use of the punishment in the Islamic Republic, particularly since the June 2009 protests began. The Campaign calls upon the Iranian Judiciary to institute an immediate moratorium on executions, in line with the United Nations General Assembly moratorium approved in 2007.