Members of the Ahwazi Arab and Azerbaijani minorities were subject to continuing repression. Members of the small Sunni Azerbaijani minority were arrested in February when they protested against cuts in water supplies. Members of the Kurdish minority suspected of belonging to banned armed opposition groups were arrested and imprisoned. Some were sentenced to death and at least one was executed, possibly in reprisal for a spate of attacks on officials in Kordestan province in September. In Sistan- Baluchistan province, home to the mostly Sunni Muslim Baluch minority, violence intensified amid increasing clashes between the security forces and members of the People's Resistance Movement of Iran (PRMI), an armed political group also known as Jondallah. On 18 October, at least 42 people, including senior Revolutionary Guards officers and civilians, were killed in an attack claimed by the PRMI.
- On 30 May, two days after a PRMI bomb attack on a mosque in Zahedan killed at least 25 people, three men were publicly executed near the mosque for allegedly smuggling the explosives into Iran; all three had been in prison accused of other bombings when the attack happened.
Members of religious minorities, including some not recognized by the government, continued to suffer discrimination, harassment, arbitrary arrest and damage to community property. Among those targeted were Sunni Muslim clerics; Shi'a clerics advocating the separation of the state from religion; members of the Dervish and Ahl-e Haqq communities; members of a philosophical association called Al-e Yasin; Christians; and members of the Baha'i community, who remained unable to access higher education. Converts from Islam were at risk of attack as well as prosecution for "apostasy", which is punishable by death.
- Maryam Rostampour and Marzieh Amirizadeh Esmaeilabad, both Christian converts, were arrested on 5 March in Tehran for handing out Bibles and participating in religious gatherings. Both were prisoners of conscience. Released in November after acquittal in October of "acting against state security" by a Revolutionary Court, they continued to face charges of "apostasy" and "proselytizing" in a General Court.
- Seven Baha'is, two women and five men, who were arrested in March and May 2008, remained held without trial in Evin Prison in Tehran. All faced charges of spying for Israel and "insulting religious sanctities and propaganda against the system". In May their families were told that they had also been charged with "corruption on earth", which can be punished by death.
Torture and other ill-treatment
Torture and other ill-treatment in pre-trial detention remained common, facilitated by the routine denial of access to lawyers by detainees and impunity for officials who perpetrate violations. Methods reported included severe beatings; confinement in tiny spaces; deprivation of light, food and water; and systematic denial of medical treatment. At least 12 people were believed to have died in custody in 2009 apparently as a result of ill-treatment or lack of adequate medical care. No investigations into any torture allegations were reported, except at Kahrizak.
Cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments
Sentences of flogging and judicial amputation were imposed and carried out. In February, the Supreme Court upheld a sentence in which acid would be dropped into the eyes of a man who had blinded a woman with the same liquid.
- Abdolreza Rajabi, a supporter of the proscribed People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran who had been imprisoned since 2001, died in custody in October. There were reports that he may have been tortured.
Iran maintained one of the highest rates of execution globally. At least 388 people were executed, including one man who was stoned to death and at least five juvenile offenders sentenced for crimes committed when they were aged under 18. At least 14 were executed in public. The actual totals were believed to be higher.