Friday, March 20, 2015

20-Mar-15: This is how it looks when an Islamist state turns moderate

The full report is here
The Islamic Republic of Iran, where daily life was recently described as consisting of "systematic arrest, torture, persecution of minorities and accelerated executions" has had a moderate political leader for nearly two years. Don't believe us? Then trust the headlines:
What kind of "moderate"? Newsweek laid it out for us a week ago ["State Executions Rise to Two Per Day in Iran" | Newsweek, March 13, 2015]. 

The article provides some stunning facts based on the research of Oslo-based human rights group Iran Human Rights (IHR) together with the French group Ensemble Contre la Peine de Mort (Together against the Death Penalty). They held a press conference last week to reveal what they know - the full report is downloadable from here.

Some findings:
  • 753 people were executed by the Iranian regime in 2014, up 10% on 2013. By comparison, the total for 2005 was 94. 
  • But only 291 (39%) of these official 2014 state killings were announced via official Iranian government sources.
  • "Executions have risen dramatically since president Hassan Rouhani’s election in June 2013. In the 18 months before his election, there were 827 executions. In the 18 months after the election, this figure rose to 1,193."
  • About half those put to death were convicted, according to the state, on drug-related charges. 240 were executed for murder.
  • 14 of those killed were juveniles.
  • "At least 53 of the executions recorded were held in public, with children often present to watch the spectacle."
  • 26 were women. They include a woman of 26, Reyhaneh Jabbariconvicted of stabbing to death a man who lured her to his office and tried to rape her. She was 19 at the time, and spent 7 years in prison before being executed. (Details here).
  • "All the reported execution cases for 2014 were carried out by hanging. In most cases, public executions are carried out using cranes, while in prisons they are usually carried out by having the object the prisoner is standing on kicked out from beneath their feet, according to the report... Often the fall is not severe enough to dislocate the neck and thus cause sudden death, and so in some cases it has taken several minutes for a prisoner to die from suffocation or strangulation."
  • "Prisoners are forced to watch their fellow prisoners hanged before it is their turn."
The nightmare of today's Iranian moderate reality extends to additional fronts:
Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, IHR's spokesperson calls the execution report's findings "shocking", which is understating it. He has a suggestion:
Today Iran depends on dialogue with the west to lift the sanctions and this is the time when the West can have some influence on the human rights situation by making demands. If they don’t do it now it will never happen.
What are the chances? Those currently negotiating intensively with the Iranians on nuclear issues may be so caught up with the moderation of their interlocutors that involving themselves in internal Iranian matters are almost certainly too much to expect. A US president who beams a message into Iran, as President Barack Obama did this week [BBC], saying a deal "to transform the relationship between" the US and Iran "could be within reach", is unlikely to want messy matters such as these to complicate his statecraft.

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