Archive for the ‘Iranian prisons’ category

Iran’s 1988 Mass Executions Result in US Congress Resolution

June 2, 2017

Iran’s 1988 Mass Executions Result in US Congress Resolution, Iran News Update, June 2, 2017

A recently introduced resolution in the U.S. Congress, H.Res. 159, refers to the horrific mass executions of political prisoners by the Islamic Republic of Iran. Mike McCaul, the House Homeland Security Chair, introduced the resolution, and it was cosponsored by Ed Royce, the House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair, as well as Ranking Member Eliot Engel, and Rules Committee Chair Representative, Peter Sessions.

It came as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, recently re-elected to a second term, and was addressing the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

The Associated Press reported that thousands of people gathered outside the United Nations to protest Iran’s human rights abuses, executions, and the 1988 massacre of more than 30,000 prisoners.

Speakers for the Resolution included former Democratic vice Presidential candidate, Senator Joe Lieberman, and Sir Geoffrey Robertson, former Head of UN war crimes tribunal for Sierra Leone. Robertson wrote a report on Iran’s 1988 massacre, published on the United Nations Arts Initiative.

The resolution “condemns the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran for the 1988 massacre of political prisoners and [calls] for justice for the victims.”

It adds that “over a 4-month period in 1988, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran carried out the barbaric mass executions of thousands of political prisoners and many unrelated political groups. … [A]ccording to a report by the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, the massacre was carried out pursuant to a fatwa, or religious decree, issued by then Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, that targeted the People’s Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI), also known as the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK).”

The resolution quotes one of Iran’s own senior former officials, the late Hussein Ali Montazeri, a grand ayatollah who served as Khomeini’s chief deputy, who said the 1988 massacre was ‘’the greatest crime committed during the Islamic Republic, for which history will condemn us.”

Accordingly, in 1988, the Islamic Republic executed the thousands of prisoners who had even slight affiliations with the main opposition movement Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), because of their political beliefs. The victims were buried in mass graves in Iran after they were shot or hung over a period of just a few months.

Amnesty International reported on November 2, 2007, ‘’between 27 July 1988 and the end of that year, thousands of political prisoners [in Iran], including prisoners of conscience, were executed in prisons nationwide.”

Noted by H.Res. 159, “Those personally responsible for these mass executions include senior officials serving in the current Government of Iran; … [P]risoners were reportedly brought before the commissions and briefly questioned about their political affiliation, and any prisoner who refused to renounce his or her affiliation with groups perceived as enemies by the regime was then taken away for execution.”

Accordingly, “thousands of people, including teenagers and pregnant women, imprisoned merely for participating in peaceful street protests and for possessing political reading material, many of whom had already served or were currently serving prison sentences,” were among the victims.

Stated in the congressional resolution, “[P]risoners were executed in groups, some in mass hangings and others by firing squad, with their bodies disposed of in mass graves.”

According to Amnesty International, ‘’the majority of those killed were supporters of the PMOI [MEK], but hundreds of members and supporters of other political groups . . . were also among the execution victims.’’

The resolution further states, “The later waves of executions targeted religious minorities, such as members of the Baha’i faith, many of whom were often subjected to brutal torture before they were killed.” It add “The families of the executed were denied information about their loved ones and were prohibited from mourning them in public”.

The resolution mentions a recently disclosed audiotape, where Hussein Ali Montazeri can be heard to say that the 1988 mass killings were “the greatest crime committed during the Islamic Republic, for which history will condemn us.”

Amnesty International’s report concluded, “there should be no impunity for human rights violations, no matter where or when they took place. The 1988 executions should be subject to an independent impartial investigation, and all those responsible should be brought to justice, and receive appropriate penalties’’

The resolution says, “The current Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei was reportedly aware of, and later publicly condoned the massacre.”

The Montazeri audiotape was released by Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri’s son, Ahmad, a moderate cleric, who posted the confidential audio of his father on his website. He was ordered by the intelligence to remove it, and was later arrested.

On the tape, Montazeri states, “You [Iranian officials] will be in the future etched in the annals of history as criminals. The greatest crime committed under the Islamic Republic, from the beginning of the Revolution until now, which will be condemned by history, is this crime [mass executions] committed by you.”

Ironically, the people Montazeri is addressing and warning on the tape appear to enjoy high positions currently. They include:

• Mostafa Pourmohammadi was appointed by the Hassan Rouhani to be justice minister. After the release of a tape, Pourmohammadi defended the commission of the massacre and said he is “proud“ to have carried out “God’s commandments” in killing the political opponents.

• Ebrahim Raeisi was appointed as the head of Astan Quds Razavi, which has billions of dollars in revenues.

• Hussein Ali Nayeri is now the deputy of the Supreme Court of Iran. In his memoir, Montzari writes that he told Nayeri to stop the executions at least in the month of Moharram religious holidays, but according to the BBC, Nayeri said, “We have executed so far 750 people in Tehran… we get the job done with [executing] another 200 people and then we will listen to whatever you say.”

These people are only few of those who were involved in the 1988 massacre. They have been awarded more senior positions, power, and money.

Montazeri warned them, “Beware of 50 years from now, when people will pass judgment on the leader (Khomeini) and will say he was a bloodthirsty, brutal and murderous leader.”

The message from Iran’s ex-heir Supreme Leader highlights the methods that the officials of the Islamic Republic use to oppress the opposition. Executions or brutal punishments are common, as Iran ranks top in the world when it comes to executions per capita. Crimes against humanity continue to occur. These are the means that the government uses to silence the opposition.

Human rights organizations, the United Nations, and the International Criminal Court (ICC) must conduct investigations, and bring those who have committed and continue to commit these crimes to justice. Calls for justice are increasing. Those who commit crimes against humanity should be held accountable.

Congress must follow up on the recent Congressional resolution.

Trump Administration Sanctions Iran Prison Torture Industry

April 13, 2017

Trump Administration Sanctions Iran Prison Torture Industry, Washington Free Beacon, April 13, 2017

An Iranian inmate peers from behind a wall as a guard walks by at the female section of the infamous Evin jail, north of Tehran, 13 June 2006. (AFP PHOTO/ATTA KENARE KENARE/AFP/Getty Images)

The Trump administration is leveling new economic sanctions against senior Iranian officials and its prison system for widespread human rights abuses, including the systematic torture of those being held in these facilities, according to White House officials familiar with the matter.

The latest sanctions target the Tehran Prisons Organization and Sohrab Suleimani, a senior official in the prison system and the brother of Qassem Soleimani, a senior Iranian military figure responsible for operating Iran’s rogue activities in Syria and elsewhere.

Sohrab Soleimani is responsible for overseeing Iran’s notorious Evin Prison, which is known for torturous interrogations, forced interrogations, and widespread mistreatment of inmates.

The latest sanctions are certain to rankle Tehran, already the subject of a range of new sanctions under the Trump administration, which is currently conducting a widespread review of all matters related to the landmark nuclear agreement.

A senior official on the White House National Security Council told the Washington Free Beacon that the Soleimani family has a history of fomenting violence and unrest both inside and outside Iran.

“It’s no coincidence that Sohrab Suleimani is the brother of the notorious Qassem Soleimani, the head of the IRGC’s Quds Forces, who has been responsible for so much of the violent disruption Iran has been spreading through the region,” said the official, who was not authorized to speak on record.

Iranian human rights abuses have only grown under the leadership of so-called reformist President Hassan Rouhani, the official said. This includes the detention of U.S. citizens

“There has been a disturbing and significant increase in the number of detentions and executions of Iranian citizens under President Rouhani, and the infamous Evin Prison under Sohrab Suleimani’s control has been a key facility in this program of domestic repression,” the official said.

The Trump administration is holding meetings with the family members of American citizens still being detained in Iran and believed to be subjected to torture.

“In addition, we have been deeply concerned by the treatment of American citizens in this prison, and in others throughout Iran,” the official said. “Just today, senior officials in the Trump administration met with members of the Namazi family representing Siamak Namazi and Baquer Namazi who have been unjustly detained in Iran since October, 2015 and February, 2016, respectively.”

“Today’s designations highlight our continued support for the Iranian people and demonstrate our commitment to hold the Government of Iran responsible for its continued repression of its own citizens,” John E. Smith, director of the Treasury Department’s Official of Foreign Assets Control, said in a statement. “We will continue to identify, call out, and sanction those who are responsible for serious human rights abuses in Iran.”

The sanctions do not conflict with U.S. obligations under the nuclear agreement and are not being leveled as part of that agreement, according to U.S. officials.

The sanctions were formulated following a series of investigations by the U.S. government into Iran’s systematic breach of human rights.

“These designations are in response to what we see as pattern of human rights abuses by the Government of Iran and reflect the United States’ deep concern regarding the human rights situation in Iran,” the State Department explained in a background document provided to reporters.

“We continue to see Government of Iran officials engage in repressive behavior against its own citizens, including through their mistreatment and abuse of prisoners,” the document states. “This is especially evident at Evin Prison, which is where numerous prisoners of conscience are held. We have documented these and many other human rights abuses perpetrated by the government of Iran in our annual State Department authored Human Rights, Religious Freedom, and Trafficking in persons reports.”

Soleimani’s role in Iran’s prison system makes him one of the foremost human rights abusers worldwide.

Soleimani oversaw an April 2014 incident at the Evin Prison in which dozens of security guards and prison officials beat a number of political prisoners. The attack is believed to have lasted several hours and impacted more than 30 prisoners. Many of these prisoners were later denied medical treatment.

Evin Prison is home to large number of Iranian political dissidents and other government opponents, who are routinely shut down and arrested by the Iranian regime for political activities targeting those in power.

In Iran’s Women’s Prisons, Injustice and Atrocity

March 23, 2017

In Iran’s Women’s Prisons, Injustice and Atrocity, Investigative Project on Terrorism, Abigail R. Esman, March 23, 2017

(Please see also, Dr. Majid Rafizadeh: Why the Islamist State of Iran is So Dangerous. What are we going to do about Iran? Where are the “feminists?” Can’t we at least support the resistance movement? — DM)

On a warm day last April, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe dressed her toddler Gabrielle, kissed her parents goodbye, and set off to catch her flight back home to London.

She never made it.

Instead, Islamic Revolutionary Guards apprehended the then-37-year-old at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini airport and transported her to Iran’s infamous Evin prison, where prisoners are routinely tortured and women subjected regularly to sexual abuse and rape.

In September, the dual British-Iranian citizen, who had been visiting her parents in Tehran before being apprehended, was sentenced to five years imprisonment on vague “national security charges.”

To date, no evidence has been produced to substantiate the charge. Her family believes it stems largely from her work as an executive with the Thomson-Reuters Foundation, whose mission, to “stand for free independent journalism, human rights, and the rule of law,” is not wholly compatible with the Iranian regime. Employees of charitable organizations are also a frequent target of Iranian officials, who often accuse them of being spies.

In the meantime, her daughter, who has British but not Iranian citizenship, remains with her grandparents, while Zaghari-Radcliffe’s British husband, Richard Ratcliffe, continues to fight from the UK for her release.

Iranian arrests of dual-nationals are not uncommon – the current government does not recognize the second nationality of its citizens – and arbitrary arrests on trumped-up charges of spying are a signature of the regime. In addition, women, both Iranian and dual-nationals, increasingly are being targeted as they speak out against the misogyny of their rulers. As the Women’s Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) observes, “Under the mullahs’ rule in Iran, women are supposed to stay home and therefore, having any kind of political or civil rights activity is considered a serious crime for women and evokes greater retaliation by the government.”

Zaghari-Ratcliffe has felt that retaliation. For nine months, she withstood agonizing conditions in solitary confinement: “Every day and every second I would submerge more and more in an ocean of doubt, fear, threat, loneliness and more than anything mistrust,” she wrote in a letter to her husband earlier this month. “… My wails would go unheard in that tiny, dingy, cold, grey cell … In solitary, there was a moment when I realised that there is a level of pain that I hadn’t experience before, a pain thousands of times longer, more overwhelming than child birth, without a happy ending.”

But prison conditions for women, who endure the same forms and level of torture as male prisoners, can be even more horrific. They are raped, groped, and subjected to other forms of sexual abuse. Their genitals may be forcibly subjected to invasive “searches.”  Even their fellow female prisoners can pose a threat: except at Evin, where prisoners are segregated according to the nature of their crime, women prisoners are held together regardless of the charges against them. Consequently, political detainees can be housed “amongst ordinary and often dangerous inmates,” the NCRI reports.

But Evin, where most political detainees are incarcerated, is in every other way far worse than most other prisons. Women are thrown immediately into solitary confinement, where they will remain for months before being released into an overcrowded, vermin-infested women’s ward. And it is at Evin that some of the most horrifying torture takes place, particularly against political prisoners. The NCRI report describes women detainees hung by their hands and feet, subjected to repeated cigarette burns, and suffering beatings severe enough to cause internal bleeding. They may be threatened with rape or execution and, as at all Iranian prisons, denied communication with family or even an attorney.

Conditions are even worse at Qarchak Women’s Prison, where a single hall holds 600 beds for 2,000 prisoners, most of whom therefore sleep on the floor, according to Al-Arabiya. In addition, the NCRI notes, “there is no good drinking water. The prisoners who [can] not afford to buy mineral water have no option but to drink salty water.” And regular inspections of women’s genitals in the name of “security” can be violent, resulting in severe injury. Those who dare protest are subjected to physical torture, or placed in solitary confinement with a “psychologically disturbed prisoner,” reports Al-Arabiya.

Added to this are the abysmal physical conditions of women’s prisons overall, which receive a miniscule portion of the overall prison budget. Most are therefore situated in repurposed warehouses and other abandoned buildings. Some lack walls or roofs. At others, AIDS, hepatitis, and other infectious diseases are rampant, the possibility of contamination made worse by lack of ventilation in the wards.

Yet despite the disease, the abuse, and the injuries that result, political prisoners – male or female – are generally denied access to medical care. Some have gone blind as a result of their treatment. At Evin, Zaghari-Ratcliffe reportedly is having trouble walking, considered suicide, and recently collapsed when finally permitted to visit the prison clinic.

None of this is particularly new. Iran has a long history of abusive treatment of women prisoners, reaching back to the 1980s when virgins were routinely raped before being executed, a practice that became “systematic,” according to the British Foreign Policy Centre. Often, such rapes were justified on religious grounds, based on Quranic verses that describe virgins as inherently innocent. In other cases, female political prisoners were married off to their jailor rapists or even lawyers in exchange for avoiding execution. Such practices continued, according to several reports, well into the 1990s and later.

Moreover, the misogynistic nature of Iranian society makes women especially vulnerable to psychological torture. The Foreign Policy Centre report describes a history of women forced to choose between “confessing” to promiscuity, describing often invented details of their sex lives to their families or even on television, or serving sentences for political crimes they had not committed. Given the possible repercussions women can face for sexual promiscuity – honor killings among them – many have chosen prison. Those who do not, frequently now live, even after their release, in continued fear of the vengeance of family and community.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and family.

Yet even these kinds of choices do not seem to have been made available to Zaghari-Ratcliffe, whose husband provides continuing reports online on her condition. Moreover, because Iran does not recognize her British citizenship, she has had no access to UK consular services, and the British government can do little to help her. Diplomatic pressures may not matter anyway. In 2011, Iran executed a Dutch-Iranian woman despite assurances to the Dutch government that her life would be spared.

Nonetheless, in her March 14 letter to her husband, Zaghari-Ratcliffe described her determination to fight back, despite “my shattered dreams and their broken, empty promises….We shall overcome this pain. Today freedom has got one day closer.”

Iranian Political Prisoners in Dire Need of the Support of the International Community

January 11, 2017

Iranian Political Prisoners in Dire Need of  the Support of the International Community, Iran News Update, January 11, 2017

(Perhaps if we referred to them as “Palestinians” the international community might notice their plight. — DM)

iranian-political-prisoners-750

Silence of the global community sends a message to the Iranian regime that it can get away with these crimes, and that is a message not to be condoned with silence.

**************************

An article in The Hill by Ali Safavi, member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran and president of the Near East Policy Research, discusses the alarming reports which from came from Gohardasht Prison, that activist and political prisoner Ali Moezzi, had disappeared on January 4, 2016.

Moezzi spent years in prison in the 1980’s for his affiliation with the Iranian opposition group, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (PMOI/MEK).  Beginning in 2008, he served two more years, for having visited his two daughters residing in Camp Ashraf, Iraq. Arrested again in 2011, seven months after his latest release, for attending the funeral of a fellow political prisoner, he’s been imprisoned ever since. He has faced much pressure, including the extension of his current prison term beyond its specified four years.He’s also be subjected to numerous explicit death threats.

Reportedly, he’s undergone routine beatings and torture and the absence of medical care for his pre-existing health problems. Moezzi’s arrest came shortly after he had been released from a hospital after undergoing surgery following a cancer diagnosis.

The regime has repeatedly been charged with disregard for the health and well-being of prisoners, especially those detained for political or religious offenses.  A recent example is Arash Sadeghi, who is serving a 15-year prison sentence for his peaceful human rights activism. Sadeghi began a hunger strike shortly after his wife was arrested. Sadeghi finally ended his hunger strike after judicial authorities granted his wife temporary release from her pre-trial detention. His hunger strike lasted more than 70 days befor the regime agreed to even that, and it was not the likelihood of Sadeghi’s imminent death that prompted them to act, but the massive support that his protest had garnered within Iran and abroad. Hundreds of Iranians gathered outside of Evin Prison, to protest his treatment. His cause was promoted on the internet and via banned social media networks by several thousands of supporters.

Salve writes, “It may not be a coincidence that Moezzi disappeared from Gohardasht Prison just one day after it was announced that Sadeghi had been hospitalized and brought back from the brink of death.”  He adds, “Both incidents demonstrated that the Iranian regime has no qualms about endangering the lives of its political adversaries, but the ruling mullahs can only take such a situation to its drastic conclusion if relatively free from public scrutiny.”

He says that it may be easier for the regime simply allow political prisoners to die, if those deaths occur in secret locations, so that they can claim “plausible” deniability.

Iran’s domestic activists or the international community may still be able to save Moezzi in much the same way they saved Sadeghi, but it is impossible to know Moezzi’s current condition, much less to follow its deterioration in real time.  This is a challenge as it is difficult to rally around a cause that they cannot see.  However, these atrocities must not be allowed to continue in the shadows.

This is the challenge that requires serious commitment, and a campaign that includes the international community and media. “World powers must take an interest in this case, and in the overall plight of Iranian prisoners of conscience,” writes Salvi.

Which is actually underscored by the recent success of the Sadeghi case.  Silence of the global community sends a message to the Iranian regime that it can get away with these crimes, and that is a message not to be condoned with silence.

 

During My Five-Year Imprisonment I Witnessed Numerous Crimes of Iran Regime

December 9, 2016

During My Five-Year Imprisonment I Witnessed Numerous Crimes of Iran Regime, Iran Focus, December 9, 2016

shabnam-madadzadeh

“They pushed me and they hit me a lot…They grabbed my hair and pushed my head and wanted me to say what they wanted to hear. They tortured my brother, even more in front of my eyes. They increased the pressure and even more in the interrogation they said they would kill me and threatened to execute me. Nobody knew where I was, I was alone and I heard the sounds of other prisoners being tortured. They would cry out and it was the most horrible sound.”

****************************

London, 9 Dec – During My Five-Year Imprisonment I Witnessed Numerous Crimes of Iran Regime

A former Iranian political prisoner has told The Express about the barbaric way she was treated and why the West must support the democratic alternative to the Iranian Regime.

Shabnam Madadzadeh, 29, was imprisoned for seven years for her support of the political opposition group, the People’s Mojaheidn Organisation of Iran (MEK).

She was beaten and tortured, forced to listen as guards raped other female prisoners and forced to watch as intelligence agents beat her brother, Farzad.

Madadzadeh, a computer science student at Tarbiat Moalem University in Tehran, was arrested with her brother in 2009 for speaking out against the Iranian Regime’s human rights abuses.

She said: “I arrived and spent three months in solitary confinement and there was torture, both mental and physical. My cell was just 2x3m and I was alone with no connection to the world. My family was not allowed to contact me and they could not find out anything about me or what it was like for me in jail.”

When she was released from solitary confinement, Madadzadeh bravely smuggled letters out of prison to raise awareness of the brutality that she and other political prisoners were subjected to.

She refused to answer interrogators, to which they responded with violent interrogations of up to 10 hours each day.

She said: “They pushed me and they hit me a lot…They grabbed my hair and pushed my head and wanted me to say what they wanted to hear. They tortured my brother, even more in front of my eyes. They increased the pressure and even more in the interrogation they said they would kill me and threatened to execute me. Nobody knew where I was, I was alone and I heard the sounds of other prisoners being tortured. They would cry out and it was the most horrible sound.”

She revealed that prisoners were often electrocuted or tortured via the medieval method of stretching on a rack before being beaten.

After her release, Madadzadeh fled the country in fear for her life. She urges Western governments to stand up to the Iranian Regime and President Hassan Rouhani.

She said: “The West cannot negotiate with the regime. It’s the most criminal in the world. The face of the regime is not the smiling faces and shaking of hands. My message to European leaders is stop negotiating with the regime.”

She recommended that Western leaders side with the National Council of Resistance of Iran, a democratic group which acts as a government-in-exile and works alongside the MEK.

Earlier this week, Madadzadeh spoke to the European Parliament about the horrors of the Regime.

She said: “During my five-year imprisonment I witnessed numerous crimes of this regime particularly against Iran’s innocent women and girls and today I am here to be the voice of the voiceless, the voice of those being crushed in the clutches of this misogynist regime in face of the world’s silence and inaction.”

She continued: “The message of the Iranian people to western governments, and my message today is that you must adhere to the three decades of struggle by the Iranian people to break free from the clutches of this regime and accept the true freedom fighters, the National Council of Resistance of Iran as the true representative of the Iranian people, and refrain from any type of negotiations or deals with this notorious regime, because the true price of your deals is human lives, gallows in the streets of Iran.”

This references the numerous executions in Iran, which has the highest per capita execution rate in the world. In 2015 alone, the Regime ordered the deaths of around 1,000 people for mostly low-level, non-violent crimes.

Madadzadeh said: “The Iranian people have the will power to overthrow this regime, and with the tireless efforts of the Iranian resistance they will overthrow this regime.”

Iran: Latest on a Female Political Prisoner

November 4, 2016

Iran: Latest on a Female Political Prisoner, Iran Focus, November 4, 2016

golrokh-ebrahimi

London, 4 November – A political prisoner in Iran had a visit from her mother for the first time since her imprisonment on October 24.

Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee was imprisoned for writing an unpublished story about the brutal act of stoning in Iran.

The Intelligence Revolutionary Guards were dressed in plain clothes when they came to arrest her; they kicked and punched the door in order to intimidate her, refuses to give their identities or produce ID or a court order.

Iraee was prevented from taking her asthma medication and according to her mother, the IRGC taunted Iraee, asking what use the medicine would be as she wouldn’t live very long anyway.
They handcuffed and blindfolded her in front of her neighbours and took her to Evin Court.

When in court Iraee explained the mistreatment she had suffered and she was finally allowed her medication before being transferred to prison.

Her mother, who is recovering from one surgery and on the waiting list for another, gave an interview to a Persian newspaper.

She said: “Golrokh is very much concerned about Arash’s (her imprisoned husband) hunger strike because he takes medicine and he is injured in [the] shoulder area while he was being detained by the Revolutionary Guards forces.”

Iraee requested that the person in charge of Evin Prison (where she is being held) call the person in charge of Hajiloo prison (where Arash is being held) to ask him to stop his hunger strike, as he will be unable to visit his wife unless he stops.

Iraee’s mother was told that this would be the only time she could visit and is unsure whether the Regime will change their minds.

Arash Sadeghi is a political prisoner who went on hunger strike to protest his wife’s imprisonment.

The Real War on Women in a Nightmarish Islamic State

January 16, 2016

The Real War on Women in a Nightmarish Islamic State, Front Page MagazineDr. Majid Rafizadeh, January 15, 2016

(The “Islamic state” in the article is the Islamic Republic of Iran, our wonderful partner for peace — DM)

la-fg-iran-dress-code-protest-20140507-003

When it comes to executions, girls are systematically more vulnerable due to the Islamist penal code of Sharia law.

Let’s take a look at the Islamist state of Iran, which creates its laws from the legal codes of Sharia and Quran. The first type of discrimination is related to age: girls are held criminally accountable at the maturity age of 9 Lunar years. (This will automatically put girls at a higher risk of execution by the court.)

Iranian ruling politicians hold the highest record when it comes to the most executions per capita in the world. Intriguingly, in the last two years that the so-called moderate, Hassan Rouhani, has been in office, there have been more than 2000 executions conducted in Iran. That is nearly 3-4 executions a day.

More importantly, Iranian leaders are also the largest executioner of women and female juveniles. Some of these executions were carried out on the mullahs’ charge of ‘Moharebeh’ (enmity with Allah), or waging war against Allah, ifsad-i Fil Arz (Sowing Corruption on Earth), or Sab-i Nabi (Insulting the Prophet).

There are three methods of execution for women and female juveniles: 1. Stoning  2. Public hanging 3. Shooting. Some women are also beaten so severely in the prison that they die before reaching the execution. Shooting, which is the fastest method of the three for execution, has not been used since 2008. Instead, the most common method to execute women is public hanging or stoning. Some of these women are flogged right before they are hanged. Public hanging not only imposes fears in the society but also aims at dehumanizing and controlling women as second-class citizens. According to the Islamist penal code of Iran, women offenses are classified as: Hadd, Diyyih, Ta`zir, and Qisas.

Some of these women are stoned for adultery. But even in stoning, the Islamists and Sharia law differentiate between men and women. Women are buried to the neck while men are buried to the waist. This allows some men to be capable of running away from the stoning, while women do not have a chance for survival, at all. If women are still alive after hours of stoning, a large block normally is smashed over their head.

Women from ethnic and religious minorities, as well as political dissidents, have also been targets of these executions. Based on the latest report, Ahmed Shaheed, the U.N.’s special “rapporteur” on human rights in Iran, pointed out that executing individuals from religious and ethnic minority groups are carried out because those victims were “exercising their protected rights, including freedom of expression and association…..When the Iranian government refuses to even acknowledge the full extent of executions which have occurred, it shows a callous disregard for both human dignity and international human rights law.”

In the latest report, Amnesty International announced: “Execution of two juvenile offenders in just a few days makes a mockery of Iran’s juvenile justice system.” And the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned Iran and warned about the rise of executions in Iran which “reflect a worrying trend in Iran….Over 700 executions are reported to have taken place so far this year, including at least 40 public, marking the highest total recorded in the past 12 years.”

In many of these cases related to women and female juveniles, it is clear that they were executed for either self-defense against forced marriage or a rapist, or for charges such as freedom of expression. They often are forced to marry at a very young age to an older person, or someone they do not like, such as in the case of the child bride, Farzaneh (Razieh) Moradi – who was forced to marry at the age of 15 and was executed in the city of Esfahan. These women were beaten and raped, repeatedly, by their spouses or relatives until they could not take it anymore and defended themselves. Some of these girls are being imprisoned and executed based on the fabricated charges of possessing opium. For example, in the case of the 16-year-old Sogand, the police found opium in her father’s house, but because there was no one at home except her, they arrested her. She is still in prison as none of her family members have come forward to save her life.

Some of these executions are based on the issue of “honor.” For example, some of these girls follow their hearts and fall in love with someone they choose themselves. But since their brothers and fathers disagree with this, the females get punished. For example, in the case of Mahsa, a seventeen-year-old, her brothers are the ones seeking her execution. In addition, if an Iranian Muslim woman has sex with a Christian or Jewish person, she will be executed (but a Muslim man is allowed to have sex with non-Muslim women).

Some of these girls are raped, repeatedly, in the process of investigation and forced into “Sighah”- the Shiite Islamist law of temporary marriage – with a cleric, or a member of Etela’at (intelligence), or Revolutionary Guard Corps before they are executed. Amnesty International previously pointed out that there are a “considerable” number of reports regarding this issue.

While the West is looking to lift sanctions against Iranian leaders in a few days and normalize ties with Iran, it is critical to look at the egregious human rights violations that this country is allowing. Is being silent and turning a blind eye to these human rights abuses appropriate? Doesn’t normalizing ties with the Iranian leaders and releasing billions of dollars to them, facilitate their efforts of executing more people, including women and child girls?

______________________

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, an Iranian-American political scientist and scholar, is president of the International American Council and serves on the board of the Harvard International Review at Harvard University. Rafizadeh is also a former senior fellow at the Nonviolence International Organization based in Washington, DC and is a member of the Gulf Project at Columbia University. He can be reached at Dr.Rafizadeh@post.harvard.edu. Follow Rafizadeh at @majidrafizadeh.