Iran has killed 251 people in 2022 'execution spree', rights groups say

The country is on course to soon surpass the total number of people executed last year

Human rights groups have issued a warning that Iran has hanged at least 251 people so far this year, but they suspect the real number to be far higher. EPA
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Iran executed at least one person every day on average in the first six months of 2022 in an "abhorrent assault" on the right to life, two human rights groups have warned.

At least 251 people were hanged between January and June this year but the true number could be much higher, the Washington-based Abdorrahman Boroumand Centre for Human Rights in Iran and London-based Amnesty International said in a joint statement on Wednesday.

"During the first six months of 2022, the Iranian authorities executed at least one person a day on average," said Diana Eltahawy, deputy regional director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International. "The state machinery is carrying out killings on a mass scale across the country in an abhorrent assault on the right to life."

At least 12 people were executed on June 15, after another "mass execution" of a dozen people on June 6, the groups said.

The country will "soon surpass the total of 314 executions recorded for the whole of 2021", and there have not been as many killings since 2015, Ms Eltahawy said.

The groups also warned of a looming death sentence for German-Iranian citizen Jamshid Sharmahd, who is accused of "depravity, or corruption on Earth" ― a broad term that could encompass anything from anti-government comments and acts to blasphemy.

"A Tehran Revolutionary Court could sentence Jamshid Sharmahd to death in the coming days," the groups warned.

Mr Sharmahd is accused of being involved in a 2008 mosque bombing in Iran that killed 14 people ― a charge he denies.

Jamshid Sharmahd, who is accused by the Iranian government of being a leader of the US-based Tondar terrorist group behind a deadly attack in Iran in 2008, attends the first hearing of his trial in the capital Tehran. AFP

The groups said 146 of those executed this year had been sentenced in "grossly unfair trials".

"At least 86 others were executed for drug-related offences which, according to international law, should not incur the death penalty," the joint statement said.

Once again, Baluchi minorities who make up only 5 per cent of Iran's population, were disproportionately among those executed, the two groups said, echoing previously reported concerns.

"The disproportionate use of the death penalty against Iran's Baluchi minority epitomises the entrenched discrimination and repression they have faced for decades," said Abdorrahman Boroumand Centre for Human Rights director Roya Boroumand.

Activists say Iran is in the throes of a major crackdown, as protests continue over living conditions and a severe economic crisis.

Labour activists, intellectuals and filmmakers have been arrested, including the director Mohammad Rasoulof whose film There is No Evil, about the effects of the use of the death penalty in Iran, won the Golden Bear for best film at the 2020 Berlin Film Festival.

Updated: July 27, 2022, 1:21 PM