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Partners in Peace: Executions in Iran Are Surging

Executions are rising sharply in Iran, reaching a 12-year high in 2014, according to the United Nations’s Human Rights Council. The UN called this “deeply troubling” and further criticized Iran for not living up to promises that it would protect ethnic and religious minorities, according to a report at Voice of America News.

VOA reports that Iran is thought to have carried out at least 500 executions between January and November 2014, while the UN special envoy on human rights in Iran put the total for 2014 at 753 executions, as quoted by i24 News. Another 252 are said to have been executed since January 2015, giving Iran the highest per capita execution total in the world. A chart of executions per year, with names and charges against the accused, is maintained by the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center.

The envoy, Ahmed Shaheed, also criticized Iran for continuing to “harass, arrest, prosecute and imprison many members of society who express criticism of the government or publicly deviate from officially sanctioned narratives.” There have been allegations of torture against those imprisoned by the regime, and they have been denied access to legal representation.

Shaheed noted that opposition politicians, lawyers, and pesky journalists are often charged with the sort of “vaguely worded national security offenses” that led to many of the executions. Adultery and sodomy are also common capital offenses, although the most common by far are drug-related offenses.

One noteworthy example of vague national security offenses putting someone in jail is Mehdi Hashemi, the son of former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, currently serving 15 years in prison for his part in the huge 2009 “Green Revolution” protests against the fishy election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Hashemi is also supposed to be guilty of fraud and embezzlement.

Current President Hassan Rouhani was supposed to be a “reformer,” but the human-rights picture in Iran hasn’t improved much. Shaheed theorized that the execution wave might be the work of “hardliners” working to undermine Rouhani.

The UN also criticized Iran for blocking some 5 million websites, banning professional human rights lawyers, and harassing activists, moves which were judged “a setback for the country as a whole,” despite a superficial willingness to cooperate more fully with the UN on human rights treaties. McClatchy News says the UN hit Iran for arresting at least 13 bloggers and journalists, since July, on charges including “national security crimes,” “propaganda against the system,” and “insulting the Supreme Leader.”

On the religious-liberty front, Iran has been cracking down on the Bahai faith. It has over 92 Christians currently tucked away in prison cells, and Sunni Muslims haven’t been allowed to build a mosque in Tehran since the Shiite government came to power in 1979.

The Voice of America report adds a bit of “War On Women” action from the Human Rights Council report: “Two-thirds of women reportedly suffer domestic violence, the report said. Girls are forced to marry young, with about 48,450 between the age of 10 and 14 married in 2011, and at least 1,537 under 10 were married in 2012.”

The human rights picture with our soon-to-be-nuclear Iranian partners-in-peace looks grim. There have been complaints that the Obama administration demanded insufficient concessions on these matters during nuclear negotiations, but then, they did not demand a lot of concessions on anything, and the Iranians have not put much effort into pretending they will honor the few promises they have made.

It is full speed ahead on nukes for the theocracy. Secretary of State John Kerry met with the Iranian foreign minister in Switzerland, not far from where the human rights report was dropping, and the Iranian ambassador to the UN was sneering that it was a “politically motivated” assault on his nation’s integrity. The Iranians know full well that Team Obama wasn’t going to risk their big Peace In Our Time deal over hangings, religious persecution, and imprisoned journalists.

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