Iran: Public Executions on the Rise
A series of hangings, including that of at least three political activists, appear designed to warn of the continued dangers of dissidence in
Below is an article published by Robert Tait for The Observer:
Many executions have been carried out in public in an apparent bid to create a climate of intimidation while sending out uncompromising signals to the West. Opposition sources say at least three of the dead were political activists, contradicting government insistence that it is targeting 'thugs' and dangerous criminals. The executions have coincided with a crackdown on student activists and academics accused of trying to foment a 'soft revolution' with
The most high-profile recent executions involved Majid Kavousifar, 28, and his nephew, Hossein Kavousifar, 24, hanged for the murder of a hardline judge, Hassan Moghaddas, a man notorious for jailing political dissidents. They were hanged from cranes and hoisted high above one of
The spectacle, the first public executions in
The previous day seven men were publicly executed in the north-eastern city of
Public hangings are normally carried out sparingly in
The executions come after the government launched a campaign targeting murderers, sex offenders, drug traffickers and others cast as a threat to 'social security'. It resulted in a wave of arrests after police raided working-class neighbourhoods in
The government has also sought to publicise executions conducted behind closed doors. Last month state television broadcast footage of 12 condemned men as they were about to be hanged in
International gay rights campaigners have also said that homosexual men were among the executed. Homosexuality is a capital offence in
However, there have been signs of official disquiet over the recent trend. Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, the relatively moderate judiciary chief, has made an apparent protest by openly criticising Ahmadinejad's government on a range of issues. He also signalled displeasure with the repressive climate by ordering officials to investigate claims that student activists were tortured during a recent detention in Evin prison.
Shahroudi is believed to have been unhappy over the stoning to death last month of a man convicted of adultery after he had ordered a stay of execution.
However, the spate of executions seems likely to continue.