A Norwegian NGO says Iran on Monday morning carried out a mass execution of 12 prisoners in the country's south-east over drug or murder-related charges.
Iran Human Rights (IHR) said the inmates were hanged at Zahedan prison in Sistan-Baluchestan province near the country's borders with Afghanistan and Pakistan.
All 12 prisoners were members of the Baluch ethnic minority. Six of them were facing death sentences for drug charges and the remainder were found guilty of murder.
IHR says the executions were not covered by domestic media nor confirmed by Iranian officials.
One of the people executed, a woman, identified only by her surname, Gargij, was sentenced for murdering her husband. She was arrested in 2019, IHR said.
Activists have long expressed concern that executions in Iran disproportionately target members of Iran's ethnic and religious minorities, notably Kurds in the north-west, Arabs in the south-west and Baluch in the south-east.
"Data gathered by Iran Human Rights shows that Baluch prisoners accounted for 21 per cent of all executions in 2021, while representing only 2 per cent to 6 per cent of Iran's population," IHR said.
There is also concern over a recent surge of executions in Iran, as the country's leaders are confronted with protests over price increases for basic goods.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran, outlawed in the country, also said that the 12 executions had taken place in Zahedan on Monday.
"Facing expanding popular protests, the clerical regime has intensified repression and killings, setting an unprecedented record in executions," the NCRI said.
According to IHR, at least 333 people were executed in Iran in 2021, a 25 per cent increase over 2020.
Amnesty International, in its annual report on the use of the death penalty worldwide, said executions in 2021 rose by 28 per cent in Iran compared with the previous year to 314 but that the figure was probably an underestimate.
"Death sentences were used disproportionately against members of ethnic minorities for vague charges ... and as a tool of political repression," Amnesty said.