Anti-death-penalty activists have been asking the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to cut some $20 million in funding for Iran’s anti-drug campaign, because Iran executes too many people. The latest evidence against Iran is an astounding report that every adult male in a certain village was executed for drug offenses.
The claim comes from Shahindokht Molaverdi, Iran’s vice-president for women and family affairs. She put the mass execution in the context of her departmental responsibilities, asking for support for the widowed women and orphaned children of the village.
She did not provide the exact name or location of the village, but the Guardian notes the region she described is notorious for its high rates of poverty, infant and child mortality, and illiteracy, and has been subjected to a high number of executions by the Iranian government.
“Their children are potential drug traffickers as they would want to seek revenge and provide money for their families,” Molaverdi warned. “There is no support for these people. We believe that if we do not support these people, they will be prone to crime, that’s why the society is responsible for the families of those executed.”
The Times of Israel notes that the vice-president appeared to defend the necessity of the mass execution – “If we do not act against these people, crime will return,” she declared – but was primarily worried about the fate of the women and children left behind.
The activists pushing for an end to U.N. funding for Iran’s anti-drug program probably would not be mollified if generous welfare programs were provided for the widows and orphans.
“The apparent hanging of every man in one Iranian village demonstrates the astonishing scale of Iran’s execution spree,” said Maya Foa of the anti-death-penalty group Reprieve. “These executions – often based on juvenile arrests, torture, and unfair or nonexistent trials – show total contempt for the rule of law, and it is shameful that the UN and its funders are supporting the police forces responsible.”
Foa urged the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime to “make its new Iran funding conditional on an end to the death penalty for drug offences.”
The India Times quotes activist claims that nearly three-quarters of the executions in Iran are for convicted drug traffickers, “mainly handling opium being transported from Afghanistan to Europe.” The province described by Molaverdi sits on the borders with Afghanistan and Pakistan, and is noted for violent clashes between smugglers and police, according to the Times of Israel.
One human-rights group said there were 947 hangings in Iran last year, and 600 of them were for drug offenses.
The UK Guardian cites Amnesty International’s claim that 73 of the people executed by Iran over the past 10 years were juveniles. The quality of the justice administered to these condemned prisoners is described as atrocious, including torture, forced confessions, and trials that range from unfair to non-existent.