Iran on an execution binge: reports

A reportedly sharp rise in capital punishment in Iran has raised the ire of human rights groups.

The rise is due to a steep increase in stealth and mass hangings in the provinces, according to Amnesty International.

Officially Iran puts the figure of executions at 190 people from the beginning of 2011 until the end of June but according to a report in the Guardian, at least 130 others have also been executed.

Iran Human Rights (IHR), an independent NGO based in Norway, told the Guardian it had recorded 390 executions since the beginning of the year.

Iran says the drug trade is to blame for the high number of executions, as neighboring Afghanistan is the starting point for much of the world’s drug trade.

But according to NGO, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI), the executions are used for political ends - to intimidate the population into submission.

Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the ICHRI, told the Guardian: "The sharp rise of executions in Iran is a clear message that the state has no hesitation in using violence and applying it, no matter how arbitrarily, in holding on to power."

Human rights groups have reported credible accounts from Karaj, a city west of Tehran, that 25 people were hanged in a secret mass execution on Sunday on charges related to drug trafficking.

The ICHRI reported that 26 inmates were executed in Vakilabad prison in the eastern city of Mashhad on 15 June.

Natasha Stojanovich, the President of anti-death penalty group Reprieve (Australia) told the Global Post that, “The dramatic jump in numbers of executions and public hangings strongly suggest Iranian authorities are using executions to intimidate the public and suppress dissent. These repressive tactics must be condemned on the world stage and Iranian authorities brought to account”.

Former U.S ambassador to the UN, Mark Wallace says that the execution binge in Iran is one of human rights’ greatest tragedies, as it quells pro-democracy movements that have flourished in neighbouring countries during the so-called Arab Spring.