October 10 is the World Day against the Death Penalty and a reminder of our responsibility to bring pressure to bear on suppressive regimes to end their worst practices.
In 2002, Amnesty International and the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty Organization declared October 10 as the World Day against the Death Penalty. It is a day to remind ourselves of the excruciating pain of those who are condemned and awaiting their death. This includes thousands on the death row in Iran used by the regime as pawns to suppress 80 million Iranians.
The high rate of executions in Iran has not escaped the attention of world bodies, including the UN Human Rights Council which convened from September 9 to 27, in Geneva.
On the eve of the 17th anniversary of the World Day against the Death Penalty, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights held a number of sessions in Geneva where most pressing issues were discussed. In his most recent report to the Human Rights Council, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran expressed his regrets that the Islamic Republic of Iran is a top executioner of juveniles.
At least six juveniles, aging 14 to 17, were executed in Iran in 2018 leading the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to express his deep regret regarding these executions.
Iran, the top executioner of women
The highest execution per capita in the world belongs to the clerical regime in Iran. During the 6-year presidency of Hassan Rouhani, more than 4,000 people have been executed in Iran with the real number probably higher.
The Iranian regime open-handedly uses the death penalty as a form of punishment. In many cases and in a discriminatory manner this punishment is carried out against the religious and ethnic minorities, political dissidents, and women.
In defiance of the international laws which recommend other forms of punishments instead of imprisonment for women due to their role as mothers and care takers, women in Iran are not only jailed but executed. During Rouhani’s tenure alone, at least 97 women have been executed. Nine of these women have been executed in just 3.5 months this year since mid-June to the end of September. The Women’s Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran has compiled the names of these women in a list.
In her letter published on July 27, 2019, former political prisoner Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, addressed the issue of women charged with murder and their subsequent execution.
“In meeting women convicted of murder, I learned that a large percentage of them had murdered their husbands —instantly or based on a pre-meditated plan—after years of being humiliated, insulted, battered and even tortured by them and because of being deprived of their right to divorce. Although, they consider themselves criminals but are convinced that if any of their repeated appeals for divorce had been granted, they would not have committed such a crime,” Iraee writes.
These executions are cruelly unjust. As the NCRI Women’s Committee has formerly noted, the majority of the women executed are themselves victims of domestic violence and discriminatory family laws. Many resort to murder as their only avenue to defend themselves against mistreatment by their husbands and a system that miserably fails to protect them.
A mass murderer appointed as Chief Justice
Misogyny and unceasing executions of youths are the characteristics of 40 years of the mullahs’ rule in Iran. Mounting suppression and executions are regime tools against surging social discontent.
Last year, the regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei appointed Ebrahim Raisi, a key element of the 1988 massacre, as the country’s head of Judiciary. The number of death penalties and the executions have escalated ever since.
On March 5, 2019, the U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Robert Palladino denounced Raisi’s appointment as the head of Iran’s all-powerful judiciary calling it a “disgrace” and a “mockery of legal process” since Raisi is responsible for the deaths of thousands of political prisoners in the 1980s, including the 1988 massacre.
Palladino tweeted (both Farsi and English): “Ebrahim Raeesi (Raisi), involved in mass executions of political prisoners, was chosen to lead Iran’s judiciary. What a disgrace! The regime makes a mockery of the legal process by allowing unfair trials and inhumane prison conditions. Iranians deserve better!”
Call for the abolition of the death penalty
Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, explained the objective of the high rate of executions in Iran in her speech at a conference addressing the World Day against the Death Penalty on October 10, 2015.
“Yes, the existence and rule of this regime depend on executions because if there are no more executions, there would be nothing to prevent the eruption of public fury and seething social uprisings by the people.
“Without executions, how and by what means could the mullahs deny people their freedoms and instead step up suppression, intimidation and all sorts of restrictions into the most private angles of people’s lives?
Without executions, how else could the mullahs increase the prices several folds every day, squander the public’s wealth and revenues in regional wars and plunder them in a life of luxury?”
“The Iranian Resistance declared years ago that it calls for abolition of the death penalty and an end to torture and all forms of rights abuses in Iran.
“Our plan is to revive friendship, conciliation and tolerance.
“Our plan for future is to put an end to the mullahs’ religious decrees. We reject the inhuman penal code and other abusive laws of this regime. We believe Retribution is an inhuman law.
“We advocate laws that are based on forgiveness, compassion and humanity.”
On the World Day against the Death Penalty, the NCRI’s Women Committee appeals to the international community to pressure the Iranian regime to stop their common use of the death penalty, especially against women, and to annul all related decrees. It further calls the attention of the international community to the deplorable situation of women on death row in Iran.