Readers of this blog and its predecessor, will recall that we have had many occasions to feature the situation in Iran, the worlds second biggest executioner of its citizens. Statistics are hard to come by and those issued by Iran itself are an underestimate. Recent figures reveal 165 known executions in the first 2 months of 2014 which equates to just short of 1000 for the year if it carries on (Source: Iran Human Rights Documentation Centre, IHRDC). Not only is the level of execution high but they are carried out in public, sometimes with a number of people being hanged at the same time.
We have campaigned against this in the past and in particular, the particularly nasty practice of stoning people to death. The three methods of execution used in Iran are hanging – the most common – throwing people off cliffs, and stoning. Children are executed as well, despite denials, and they are kept until their eighteenth birthday before the deed is done.
When Rouhani came to power, there was a wave of optimism in the West and with it a feeling that some kind of normalised relationship could be established with Iran. An example is a BBC report of 11 November last year which quoted Jack Straw as saying ‘Rouhani was courteous, engaging, very straightforward, with a nice smile playing on his lips’. There was hope that at last there was a moderate politician in Iran and progress could be made to have dealings with that country in a sensible way.
It is in this spirit of hope that an article in the New York Times this week under the headline ‘Mercy and Web Slow the Number of Executions in Iran’ by Thomas Erdbrink might provide some good news. He spoke of a ‘growing distaste’ within Iran for capital punishment and he put this down in part to the spread of social media. ‘The increasing number of executions has made the middle class upset’ a lawyer is quoted as saying. The story was built around someone who managed to raise the funds necessary to pay the victim’s family enough to secure his release.
However, a search on the net reveals that the story is somewhat distorted and that if anything, the rate of executions is increasing under Mr Rouhani rather than diminishing. A full report of the situation in Iran is published by the International Federation of Human Rights, Fidh and can be accessed at: http://www.fidh.org/IMG/pdf/Rapport_Iran_final_pdf Please be warned there are some disturbing images.
It was hoped to post something positive about the country but the facts seem to point to the reality of life in Iran is much as it always was.
The group campaigns against the death penalty and if you wish to join us see the ‘Joining’ tab at the top of this site.