Annual Report: Iran 2011

May 28, 2011

Annual Report: Iran 2011

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  • Dissident Shi'a cleric Ayatollah Kazemeyni Boroujerdi remained imprisoned following an unfair trial in 2007. Seven of his followers were arrested in December.
  • Seven Baha'i leaders arrested in 2008 were sentenced in August to 20 years' imprisonment following grossly unfair proceedings. They were convicted of espionage and engaging in propaganda against Islam. In September, the sentences were reportedly halved on appeal.
  • In May, 24 Dervishes were sentenced to prison terms, internal exile and flogging for taking part in a 2009 demonstration in Gonabad, northeastern Iran.
  • Yousef Naderkhani, a Christian convert and member of the Church of Iran in Rasht, was sentenced to death in October after being convicted of apostasy.

Cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments

Sentences of flogging and amputation continued to be imposed and increasingly carried out, although it was not possible to ascertain the real total. Speaking before the UN Human Rights Council in April and June, Mohammad Javad Larijani, head of Iran's official human rights body, insisted that the government did not consider such punishments as forms of torture.

  • In April, journalist and filmmaker Mohammad Nourizad was sentenced to three and a half years in prison and 50 lashes for "propaganda against the system" and "insulting officials". He said in November that he and others had been tortured. He began a hunger strike in December.

Death penalty

The authorities acknowledged 252 executions, including of five women and one juvenile offender. There were also credible reports of more than 300 other executions that were not officially acknowledged, mostly in Vakilabad Prison in Mashhad. At least 143 juvenile offenders remained on death row. The actual totals were likely to have been higher as the authorities restricted reporting on the death penalty.

Death sentences were imposed for drug smuggling, armed robbery, murder, espionage, political violence and sexual offenses. The authorities imposed the death penalty and used execution as a political tool.

  • In January, two men sentenced to death for their alleged membership in a monarchist organization in connection with the postelection unrest were hanged without warning.
  • In May, four Kurds convicted for their alleged links with Kurdish opposition groups were executed.

No stonings were reported, but at least 15 prisoners, mostly women, remained at risk of stoning.

  • Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a woman whose 2006 sentence of death by stoning was under review, attracted global attention when it appeared likely that she would be executed. Those campaigning on her behalf faced harassment or arrest.

In December, an amended antinarcotics law was published, extending the death penalty to offenses involving synthetic drugs. The same month, Iran was one of the minority of states that voted against a UN General Assembly resolution calling for a worldwide moratorium on executions.