Iran executed at least 354 people in first six months of 2023, says human rights group

Six women among hundreds put to death, mainly for drug-related offences

Iranian refugees rally against executions in Iran in Brussels, Belgium. EPA
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Iran executed at least 354 people in the first half of 2023, a human rights group said on Monday as they renewed calls for action against Tehran.

The majority of people – 206 – were put to death for drug-related offences, the Norway-based Iran Human Rights said.

Among those put to death were six women and five protesters.

At least 122 others were executed on murder charges, the organisation said.

Iran is notorious for its use of the death penalty, coming second only to China for its use of capital punishment in 2020.

The nation regularly executes people convicted of drug-related charges and moharebeh, or “enmity against God”, and often executes juvenile offenders.

“The death penalty is used to create societal fear and prevent more protests. The majority of those killed are low-cost victims of the killing machine, drug defendants who are from the most marginalised communities,” said Iran Human Rights director, Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam.

He called on the UN's drugs and crime task force and member states funding joint projects with Iran to “break their meaningful silence” on the executions and to “make all collaborations contingent on halting drug executions”.

Members of the Baloch minority made up 20 per cent of those executed, the organisation said.

Baloch-majority areas bore the brunt of the state crackdown on anti-regime protesters last autumn and the community has suffered from long-standing persecution.

At least 82 were killed during Bloody Friday, when security forces gunned down protesters, bystanders and worshippers following Friday prayers at a Zahedan mosque in September.

It was the worst single incident of violence in the response to protests that have resulted in more than 500 people being killed and more than 18,000 imprisoned amid calls for an end to Tehran's decades-long repressive rule.

Several protesters were executed after being accused of killing security officers responsible for suppressing the demonstrations. It was unclear if they were included in the murder tally.

Updated: July 03, 2023, 2:04 PM