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Iran executes eight more over past 72 hours in prison ‘killing fields’

Iran's flag (Dreamstime/TNS)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Iran, which Amnesty International recently slammed for turning its prisons into “killing fields,” has executed at least eight individuals — most of whom were incarcerated for drug offenses — in a span of three days, local activists said.

The Baluch Activists Campaign said on August 21 that four executions — all linked to drug-related offences — took place at the Zahedan prison. The group identified the victims as Abdulsamad Khadem, a 29-year-old from Zahak; Yaqub Ejbari, a father of eight from Qarqaruk village; Mohammad Anwar Barahui and an individual with the surname Qanbarzehi, both of whom were from Zahedan, which is located in the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchistan.

In addition, two Baluch prisoners — named Abdulsamad Shahuzehi and Mahmud Rigi — were executed in the Zahedan prison on August 19 after being handed qisas (retribution) sentences for a joint murder dating back to 2012.

The advocacy group said that since April, 84 Baluch inmates, including four women, have been executed.

Separate reports from multiple media outlets also confirmed the execution of an unnamed individual in a prison in the southwestern Iranian city of Dezful on August 19 on charges related to drug offenses while the Human Rights News Agency reported a drug-related execution at the Sheiban prison on August 19. The individual, Abdulreza Qalavand, had been incarcerated for a decade before his execution.

Amnesty International says the regime in Tehran executes more people than any other country in the world other than China, and decried a situation that has turned the country’s prisons into “killing fields.”

“The shameless rate at which the authorities are carrying out drug-related executions, in violation of international law, exposes their lack of humanity and flagrant disregard for the right to life. The international community must ensure that cooperation in anti-drug trafficking initiatives do not contribute, directly or indirectly, to the arbitrary deprivation of life and other human rights violations in Iran,” said Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa in a report on June 2.

The Norway-based Iran Human Rights organization says that July alone saw 61 executions, with the list comprising 11 Baluchis and three Afghan nationals. Since the start of 2023, a verified total of 423 individuals have been executed in Iran, though insiders believe the actual figure could be significantly higher.

The rate of executions in Iran has been rising sharply, particularly in the wake of widespread protests that swept across the country last year following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in police custody for an alleged head scarf violation.