Iran is second only to China in the number of executions it carries out. [Updated 15 Dec 2010]

 Iran-death penalties and "Islamic punishment"


Execution in Mashhad

In Iran, prisoners and convicted criminals are subject to "Islamic Penal Law" (including what the Western world calls "cruel and unusual" punishment ), as in the following examples.

Dec. 15
The right hands of two people accused of theft were amputated in the central prison in Shiraz. The sentence was carried out within the prison.

Dec. 1
Eye for an eye – Iran’s Supreme Court revoked the fine and imprisonment imposed on a man charged with causing the blindness of another man and instead ordered the application of the Islamic Penal Law. The court sentenced the 30-year-old defendant to be blinded.

Nov. 24
Man charged with stealing has fingers cut off – A Mashhad resident convicted of two counts of theft from a home safe was sentenced to have his fingers amputated in accordance with Islamic Penal Law. The report further revealed that the amputation of four fingers from the thief’s right hand was carried out in prison in the presence of legal officials, security officials, forensic medical experts and other prisoners (Nov. 23). Immediately following the amputation, the prisoner was sent by ambulance to a hospital for surgery.

Oct. 17
Iranian court orders fingers cut off in theft case –  Despite international outrage, an Iranian court in Tehran ordered to cut off the fingers of a 21-year-old man’s hand.. The man was convicted of stealing from a bakery.

Oct. 14
Prisoner charged with theft had his fingers cut off – The Mashhad Prosecutor General, Mahmoud Zoghi, announced that the court has implemented an amputation sentence for a man charged with theft, cutting off his fingers. He asserted that this is not the first time the court implements the Islamic Shari’a laws, and it will not be the last time. He further said that such sentences would be more widely applied, reflecting a “more rigorous approach.” Referring to Article 185 of the Islamic Penal Code he indicated that those charged with theft may face the death penalty: “Under a combination of circumstances, a thief’s actions could be interpreted as the crime of moharabeh [enmity with God, whose sentence is execution].” Hadi Ghaemi, an spokesman for International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, said that in recent days Iranian officials have acknowledged that amputations have been carried out and that an increasing number of flogging sentences have been issued for post-election protestors, as well.

Death sentences and executions

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani

 Iran-death penalties and "Islamic punishment"

The Prosecutor General of East Azerbaijan Province announced that Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, an Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning, is currently being held in Tabriz Prison and is in good health. According to the Prosecutor, her legal case is moving through the legal stages in a Tehran court and, if the sentence is ratified, she will be executed by stoning (Nov. 22).

Referring to the case of Sakineh Moghammadi-Ashtiani, the spokesman of Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Western nations had become “so shameless” that they have turned this case of a woman who committed “adultery, crime and treason” into a human rights case “against our nation”. “It has become a symbol of women’s freedom in Western nations”, the spokesman said, “and with impudence they want to free her.” “Thus,” he said, “they are trying to use this ordinary case as a pressure lever against our nation”. (ISNA, November 3).

World’s governments express concern over the possibility of imminent execution of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani – The White House put out the following statement:

"We condemn in the strongest terms the Government of Iran’s apparent plans to move forward in executing Ms. Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani.  The lack of transparency and due process in Ms. Ashtiani’s case, and the subsequent actions taken against her lawyer and family, are unacceptable.  Her case demonstrates the Government of Iran’s fundamental disregard for human rights, including those of women.  We call on the Government of Iran to stop this execution, and provide Ms. Ashtiani with the due process and fair treatment she deserves" (Nov. 2).

According to news received by the International Committee against Stoning and the International Committee against Execution, on November 1, 2010, the authorities in Tehran gave the go-ahead to Tabriz prison for the execution of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning. It has been reported that she is to be executed this Wednesday, November 3. See Huffington Post.

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani accuses the Iranian regime of lying about the charges against her to pave the way to execute her in secret. “I was found guilty of adultery and was acquitted of murder, but the man who actually killed my husband was identified and imprisoned but he is not sentenced to death.” “The answer is quite simple – It’s because I’m a woman; it’s because they think they can do anything to women in this country. It’s because for them adultery is worse than murder” (Aug. 9).

Shirin Ebadi (Nobel peace laureate of 2003, one of the founders of the One Million Signatures Campaign in Iran, and a prominent human rights lawyer) explains in the Guardian: “When adultery means death” (Aug. 9).

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning, fainted in shock after hearing the verdict. So tells a former cellmate of Mohammadi Ashtiani, who spent two years with her and accompanied her to the courthouse, to the Guardian. Newsweek report: “News of the imminent stoning of one Iranian woman for alleged adultery galvanized a global movement to save her. But sadly, her case was not an anomaly” (July 22).

Since May 2006, Mohammadi Ashtiani has been kept in  Tabriz prison, in the capital of Iran’s East Azerbaijan province. She shares a room with 25 women who are mostly accused of murder. She was originally sentenced to 99 lashes for adultery, but her case was reopened when a court in Tabriz suspected her of murdering her husband. She was acquitted, but the adultery charge was reviewed and the death penalty handed down on the basis of "judge’s knowledge".

Shiva Nazar Ahari

 Iran-death penalties and "Islamic punishment"

Shiva Nazar Ahari, a journalist and human rights activist, was sentenced to six years of imprisonment in exile. She was indicted with “terrorist activities”, “compromising national security” and other similar charges, following a year of detention in Evin Prison, including 100 days in solitary confinement (Sept. 20).

Shiva Nazar Ahari was facing the death penalty on the charge of being a mohareb (wager of war against God). Iranian authorities first arrested Shiva Nazar Ahari in 2001, when she was seventeen. Her “crime” was attending a candlelight vigil in Tehran that commemorated the victims of 9/11. In 2006, she became the spokesperson for the Committee of Human Rights Reporters (CHRR). She was re-arrested in June 2009 and sent to Tehran’s Evin Prison, where she spent 33 days in solitary confinement. One informed observer described the cells at Evin as “human coffins”, so small that a short person cannot even stretch arms or legs.

Despite being verbally threatened by Saeid Mortazavi, Tehran’s prosecutor general, who told her she would be killed unless she stopped working on human rights campaigns in Iran, Ahari persevered.  In December of last year, Ahari was arrested yet again, along with two other activists, while en route to the funeral of Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri.

According to the Revolutionary Court, which is due to try her case on September 4, she stands accused of “anti-regime propaganda by working with the CHRR website” and “acts contrary to national security through participation in gatherings on November 4, 2009 and December 7, 2009.” These are the dates, respectively, of the anniversary of the US embassy seizure, which is a sanctified Iranian holiday but last year became a ferment of democratic protest, and the Student Day demonstrations, which commemorate the murder of three Iranians students killed in 1953 by the Pahlavi Government.  Ahari maintains she was at home on both days.

However, the most serious charge against Ahari is “mohareb” (rebellion against God), which carries with it the death penalty.

Dec. 12
Mashhad continues to top numbers of mass executions
– Twenty more prisoners condemned to death have been executed in the prison yard in the city of Mashhad. Over the last months, there have been a large number of reports of secret mass executions at Vakil Abad prison in Mashhad. During the past month, thirty condemned prisoners have been executed at the prison. According to reports from human rights’ activists, many of the executions have not been officially reported, as required by the Iranian justice authorities.

Dec. 8
Unprecedented death sentence for Christian pastor on charge of apostasy – The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran urged the Supreme Court of Iran to immediately reverse the apostasy conviction and death sentence of Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani and release him from prison.

Dec. 2
Shahla Jahed was taken to the gallows in Evin Prison yesterday. Jahed was convicted of murder eight years ago. The International Campaign of Human Rights Lawyers (ICHRL) had asked the head of the Judiciary for an immediate stay of execution of Shahla Jahed, citing serious questions about the veracity and accuracy of the verdict and death sentence (she supposedly confessed to the murder under torture). According to her attorney, Abdolsamad Khorramshahi, Jahed went into a state of shock in her final minutes, screaming and begging for her life, albeit to no avail. The victim’s son removed the chair under her feet. Khorramshahi attended her execution and reported, “… The victim’s family did not give their consent until the last minute. All the people who were there asked the family to forgive her, but unfortunately they didn’t agree.”

Nov. 3
Three Afghans and Nigerian among executed – Four foreign citizens were executed in the mass executions at Mashhad Prison. Three of them are from Afghanistan and one from Nigeria.

Nov. 1
Executions continue at Mashhad – October saw 23 people executed at Mashhad prison. According to a report by the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, the executions were carried out at Vakil Abad Prison in Mashhad on two occasions of massive executions.

Oct. 31
Baluchi political prisoner executed – A political prisoner from the Baluchi minority was executed at the Zahedan Prison. He was accused of terror activity and membership in opposition group. Allegations against him claimed that he took part in a battle that ended with the death of five members of Iran’s Internal Security Forces.  He was declared “most corrupted on the face of the earth”, a label that entails the death penalty.

Oct. 28
Five people executed in Tehran – The Prosecutor-General of Tehran Province announced the executions of five people sentenced to death in Tehran. 

Oct. 26
Multiple reports about secret group executions in Vakilabad Prison – International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran received credible reports from former Vakilabad prisoners about repeated, unannounced group executions of inmates. Numerous executions have taken place inside Vakilabad over the last year and more than 600 inmates remain on death row. Authorities reportedly executed ten inmates in Vakilabad as recently as October 12. The numbers of executions publicly announced by the authorities are considerably lower than the actual numbers. Amnesty International reports that at least 388 executions took place in Iran in 2009. Aaron Rhodes, a spokesperson for the Campaign said, “These reports of Mashad executions indicate that Iran is executing even more people–dramatically more– than now estimated… especially given the Iranian government’s lack of transparency concerning executions, the Judiciary needs to provide a full account of what is happening inside Vakilabad’s death row."

Oct. 13
Eight executions in the past 24 hours – Five people were hung in the courtyard of the central prison of Isfahan. Three were executed in a similar way in Dehdasht. All of these executions took place in the past 24 hours.

Oct. 10
Number of executions amounts to 137 in the past six months; Eight executions in Kerman last weekend – Human rights activists in Iran report about no less than 137 people having been executed by the Iranian authorities during the first half of the Persian calendar year (March 21, 2010-September 22, 2010). Tehran saw 32 executions, 22 in Khuzestan and 20 in Isfahan. At least 12 executions were held in public. Eleven of the executed were political prisoners. Since the beginning of the current Persian calendar year, 101 Iranian prisoners were sentenced to death. The second half of the year does not bring much hope, as eight people were executed in the central prison of Kerman.

Oct. 6
1. Capital punishment for Kurdish political prisoner approved – Iran’s Supreme Court approved the death penalty imposed on Habibollah Golparipour, a 27-year old Kurdish man who had been indicted with “propagating against the regime” and membership at the oppositionist party Pejak. Golparipour was arrested a year ago, and has been held in Mahabad Prison ever since.

2. Political prisoner sentenced to death describes torture in a letter from prison – Seyed Sami Hosseini, a political prisoner awaiting execution at the Orumieh Prison, sent a letter from prison hoping it would reach International human rights organizations. In his letter, Hosseini describes how he was arrested illegally and without appropriate ground. He further describes the physical and mental torture he underwent, which included lashes and electric shocks that caused him to lose his conscience for 18 days.

Oct. 4
Nine and a half centuries of imprisonment, more than 1,000 lashes, and eight death sentences in six months – Human Rights Activists News Agency reports that during the six months from late March to late September 2010 (the first half of the Persian calendar year), the Iranian judiciary imposed punishments that amount to nine and a half centuries of imprisonment and more than 1,000 lashes combined. These sentences were imposed on 290 political and civil activists. In addition, eight death sentences were either issued or approved during this period of time.

Sept 21
Three people executed in Ahvaz – Three people were hanged at Karoun Prison in the city of Ahvaz after their death sentence had been approved by the Prosecutor-General of Tehran Province.

Sept. 12
Death penalty to Kurdish political prisoner – Iran’s Supreme Court approved the death sentence imposed on the prisoner from the Kurdish minority Habibollah Golparipour. Golparipour, who is currently arrested at Mahabad Prison, had been accused of terrorist activity due to his membership in an opposition party.

Aug. 25
Mass executions continue – The International Human Rights Campaign reports about at least 100 executions of prisoners during the past few months at the Iranian Vakil Abad Prison in the city of Mashhad.

Aug. 24
Three prisoners, among them a citizen of Afghanistan, have been recently executed at the Central Prison of Isfahan.

Aug. 23
1. Recent month saw at least nineteen executions – Human rights activists in Iran report at least nineteen executions of prisoners throughout Iran, at least four of them performed in public. Most of the executions took place in Khuzestan Province. Twenty-two death sentences were issued by Iranian courts during the same period, and 15 others were approved by the appellate court. Two of the condemned are political prisoners arrested during post-election events.

2. Two brothers, one of them Canadian, sentenced to death – A Revolutionary Court imposed death sentences on two brothers, Hamid and Alborz Qasemi, for allegedly maintaining contact with the oppositionist Mojahedin Khalq organization, and sending it information about the post-election events. Alborz Qasemi is a Canadian citizen, who arrived in Iran following his brother’s arrest, in order to check on his condition. The Iranian authorities arrested him too, and have been holding the brothers at Evin Prison for about a year. Their sister informed the International Human Rights Campaign that the charges against them were based upon a forged email, seemingly sent by Hamid Qasemi to Albroz with confidential information.

Aug. 19
1. Death sentence to political prisoner; Her two children arrested and tortured – A Revolutionary Court sentenced Farah Vazehan, a woman arrested during the Ashura Day protests (December 27, 2009), to death following eight months of interrogations accompanied with torture. Vazehan was arrested with her two children, who are still subject to interrogation and torture at the security ward of Evin Prison. She was indicted for making films and pictures of the protest events and having contacts with the Mojahedin Khalq oppositionist organization.

2. Kurdish teacher sentenced to death goes on hunger strike – Mohammad Amin Agushi, a teacher from the Kurdish minority who was taken into custody at the central prison of Orumieh a year ago and sentenced to death on the charge of espionage, went on hunger strike in protest of his detention conditions and the restrictions he was subject to.

3. Concern over fate of Iranian-Canadian – Canadian media reports about growing concern over the health and life of Hamid Qasemi Shal, a man with dual Canadian-Iranian citizenship, who was arrested two years ago and sentenced to death on charges of espionage. His wife turned to the Canadian Government for help after failing to obtain any information about her husband’s condition.

Aug. 17
Seventy prisoners surprisingly executed in Mashhad – Seventy prisoners in Mashhad were suddenly executed a few days ago, without prior announcement. Some of them were sentenced to monetary punishments, but a sudden judicial order sent them to the gallows. It is still unclear where this judicial order came from, but speculations point to the Iranian Intelligence and security forces. 

Aug. 10
Head of Judiciary asks Supreme Leader’s approval to execute prisoners – Opposition websites report that Sadeq Larijani, head of the Iranian Judiciary, wrote a confidential letter to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, requesting his approval to execute 1120 prisoners. In this unusual letter Larijani explains that the Supreme Court has already approved the executions, but he decided to seek the spiritual leader’s special approval, in the face of world pressure exerted on the Iranian regime because of the continued executions.

Aug. 9
Iran set to execute 18-year-old on allegation of sodomy – An 18-year-old Iranian is facing imminent execution on charges of homosexuality, even though he has no legal representation. Ebrahim Hamidi, who is apparently not gay, was sentenced to death for lavat, or sodomy, on the basis of "judge’s knowledge", a legal loophole that allows for subjective judicial rulings where there is no conclusive evidence. Hamidi had been represented by human rights lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei, who has since been forced to flee Iran after bringing to international attention the case of another of his clients, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani.

Aug. 4
Appellate court confirms death penalty imposed on political prisoner – The attorney of the political prisoner Mohammad Ali Haj Aqaei, announced that the Iranian appellate court gave its final approval for the death penalty imposed on his client for allegedly engaging in terrorist activities and having contacts with the oppositionist Mojahedin Khalq organization.

July 22
Eight executions pending in Iran – News of the imminent stoning of one Iranian woman for alleged adultery galvanized a global movement to save her. But sadly, her case was not an anomaly (Newsweek).

July 21
Seven women and three men sentenced to death for adultery.

June 8
Ghezelhesar Prison sees 13 executions – Thirteen prisoners were hung  at the Ghezelhesar Prison. Another thirteen death sentenced await possible execution in a “quarantine”.

June 7
Since the beginning of the Persian month of Khordad (May 21), at least fifteen executions have been carried out across Iran, amid condemnations by international and Iranian human rights groups. Iran has the highest number of executions after China.

May 31
Kurdish activist sentenced to death: I will be on hunger strike until I dieHabibollah Golpari-Pour, a political prisoner of the Kurdish minority who has been sentenced to death on the charge of belonging to an opposition party, has been on hunger strike for more than two weeks in protest of the conditions of his imprisonment and the restrictions imposed on him. He said that he knows he will be executed soon, so he means to continue his hunger strike "to the end".

May 9
1. Iran hangs 5 Kurdish activists – Iranian Kurdish teacher Farzad Kamangar, human rights activist Ali Heydarian, Farhad Vakili, Shirin Alam Holi (see below and read her last letter) and Mehdi Eslamian, who had been convicted in 2008 of being “mohareb” (wagers of war against God), were executed Sunday morning. The Iranian regime claimed that the five were responsible for bombings and were members of the Kurdish separatist group PEJAK. Human rights activists reported that the authorities disconnected all telephone lines at Evin Prison, and executed the five prisoners without informing their families or attorneys.  See blog article: Under the Veil It’s back to the past for Tehran.

2. Female political prisoner tells her grim story – Shirin Alam Holi (or Houyee), a female political prisoner from the Kurdish minority,  was among five prisoners who were convicted in 2008 of being “mohareb” (wagers of war against God), and were executed today. She was arrested two years ago by IRGC agents, and sentenced to death for allegedly maintaining contact with the Kurdish “Pejak’ opposition movement. In a letter sent from prison she tells about the torture she has been going through every single day, the fact that she did not receive proper legal defense during her trial, which she terms “faked”. She writes that her interrogators demand that she deny her Kurdish identity in a televised interview. She signs the letter with the word “Victory” written in Kurdish.

May 5
Six prisoners executed – Last Saturday saw the execution of six condemned prisoners at the Qazalhesar Prison in Kajar. The six were convicted of drug trafficking.

April 25
Kurdish political activist sentenced to death – Habibollah Golpari Puraz, a political activist from the Kurdish minority, was sentenced to death by a Revolutionary Court. The charges against him were propagating against the regime and being member of an anti-regime party.

April 22
Five executions in one day – This week saw the execution of two prisoners from the Baluchi Sunni community in the central prison of Kerman. In addition, three death-condemned were hanged in public in the city of Babolsar.

April 13
Eleven executions in three days – The Iranian authorities executed eleven people within three days. Three people were executed in the central prison of Isfahan, three others in Taybad Prison and five others in the central prison of Mashhad.

March 7
First post-1979 Chancellor of Tehran University faces death sentence – Dr. Mohammad Maleki, the first post-1979 Chancellor of Tehran University, was accused of being a "mohareb" ("wager of war against God") and might be sentenced to death. Dr. Maleki is 76 years old and suffers from prostate cancer. Dr. Maleki’s attorney, Mohammad Sharifi, said his client had also been charged with maintaining contacts with an outlawed organization.

Jan 14
Man and woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery – Iranian Court of Appeals approved a death-by-stoning sentence against a man and a woman convicted of adultery in West Azerbaijan province. The two have been held in Orumie’s Central Prison, and were denied any legal defense or representation during their trial. A year ago, Iranian government abolished, but not completely, executions by stoning, due to public disapproval both in Iran and abroad. Still, despite the (unofficial) abolition, there are occasional reports on executions by stoning in remote parts of Iran.