(Beirut) – Iranian authorities announced on August 2, 2016, that they had executed 20 members of a group Iran considers a terrorist organization, Human Rights Watch said today. Authorities have yet to formally confirm the identities of those executed and so it is not yet possible to verify independently how many were killed and who they were.
Revolutionary courts had allegedly found the men guilty of “enmity against God,” which carries the death penalty in Iran. They are alleged members of a group called “Jihad and Tawhid.” The government statements said that authorities executed the men by hanging after they were convicted “of establishing a terrorist group” and “killing a Friday prayer Imam and several local guards,” among other crimes.
“Iran’s mass execution of prisoners on August 2 at Rajai Shahr prison is a shameful low point in its human rights record,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “With at least 230 executions since January 1, Iran is yet again the regional leader in executions but a laggard in implementing the so far illusory penal code reforms meant to bridge the gap with international standards.”
Two lawyers who represented some of the men told Human Rights Watch that their clients did not get a fair trial and that their due process rights had been violated.
Deutsche Welle Persian service reported that on the evening of August 1, prison officials called family members of more than 20 prisoners detained in Ward 4, Room 10 of Rajai Shahr prison and informed them that they could visit their imprisoned family members one last time. The prisoners are believed to have been part of a group of 33 Sunni Muslim men, including possibly a child offender, whom human rights groups previously identified as having been convicted of “enmity against God” (moharebeh).
One member of the family of Shahram Ahamdi told Human Rights Watch that on August 2, before they had reached the prison, they were directed to the medical examiner’s office where they saw the bodies of 10 people, including their son.
The announcement on August 2 was made by the judiciary in northwestern Kurdistan province, who said that 20 members of a “terrorist Takfiri group” (a group accusing others Muslims of apostasy), had been executed after a six-year judicial proceeding. The Iranian government refers to this group as “Jihad and Tawhid.”