The Washington Times on Monday conveyed reports indicating that a surge in executions has taken place inside Iran since the inauguration of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani – now reaching “about 66 people per month, 19 more per month than during the 2-year period before… [he] took office” – with the result being that the country is now “flagrantly violating international law.”
After Amnesty International’s claim that 33 people were hanged in a single week last month, the top human rights office at the United Nations noted that “28 women and a number of political prisoners” were among those executed in 2013. The office also said the killings were based on convictions that do not meet the “most serious crimes” threshold under international law.
“The persistent execution of individuals for exercising their rights to freedom of assembly, association and affiliation to minority groups contravenes universally accepted human rights principles and norms,” said Ahmed Shaheed, U.N. special rapporteur for the situation of human rights in Iran.
Last October, Ahmed Shaheed, the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights, assessed that there had been no fundamental improvements in Iran’s human rights situation under the administration of the revolutionary-era cleric. In late January, The New York Times conveyed further statements by Shaheed reiterating that ‘the more moderate tone adopted on human rights since… Rouhani’s election last year has yet to yield any moderation in the country’s punitive practices.’ The more recent Times report quoted an anonymous U.S. intelligence official suggesting that Rouhani is not responsible for among other things the increased tempo of hangings, but rather that Rouhani’s domestic opponents are attempting to smear his image as a moderate. The explanation may prove difficult to sustain when read against Rouhani’s cabinet appointments, the timeline of executions since he was inaugurated, and other data points relevant to his government’s human rights stance. Rouhani’s justice minister, Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, is notorious for having overseen the executions of literally tens of thousands of jailed dissidents in the years after the country’s Islamic revolution, and had decades ago been dubbed by Human Rights Watch a “minister of murder.” The current execution spike began almost immediately after Rouhani took over – and has continued apace – prompting Amnesty International to recently declare that the Rouhani government’s attempts to boost Iran’s “international image” are “meaningless if at the same time executions continue to increase.”
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