Iran hangs two women as surge in executions intensifies: NGO

Activists are worried by the surge in executions in Iran (Ludovic MARIN)
Activists are worried by the surge in executions in Iran (Ludovic MARIN)

Iran on Saturday hanged at least seven people, including two women, while a member of its Jewish minority is at imminent risk of execution as the Islamic republic further intensified its use of capital punishment, an NGO said.

Parvin Mousavi, 53, a mother of two grown-up children, was hanged in Urmia prison in northwestern Iran along with five men convicted in various drug-related cases, the Norway-based Iran Human Rights (IHR) said in a statement.

In Nishapur in eastern Iran, a 27-year-old woman named Fatemeh Abdullahi was hanged on charges of murdering her husband, who was also her cousin, it said.

IHR says it has tallied at least 223 executions this year, with at least 50 so far in May alone. A new surge began following the end of Persian New Year and Ramadan holidays in April, with 115 people including six women hanged since then, it said.

Iran carries out more recorded executions of women than any other country. Activists say many such convicts are victims of forced or abusive marriages.

Iran last year carried out more hangings than in any year since 2015, according to NGOs, which accuse the Islamic republic of using capital punishment as a means to instil fear in the wake of protests that erupted in autumn 2022.

"The silence of the international community is unacceptable," IHR director Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam told AFP.

"Those executed belong to the poor and marginalised groups of Iranian society and didn't have fair trials with due process."

- 'Killing machine' -

IHR said Mousavi had been in prison for four years. It cited a source as saying she had been paid the equivalent of 15 euros to carry a package she had been told contained medicine but was in fact five kilos of morphine.

"They are the low-cost victims of the Islamic republic's killing machine, which aims at instilling fear among people to prevent new protests," added Amiry-Moghaddam.

The group meanwhile said a member of Iran's Jewish community, which has drastically reduced in numbers in recent years but is still the largest in the Middle East outside Israel, was at imminent risk of execution over a murder charge.

Arvin Ghahremani, 20, was convicted of murder during a street fight when he was 18 and is scheduled to be executed in the western city of Kermanshah on Monday, it said, adding it had received an audio message from his mother Sonia Saadati asking for his life to be spared.

His family is seeking to ask the family of the victim to forgo the execution in line with Iran's Islamic law of retribution, or qesas.

Also at risk of execution is Kamran Sheikheh, the last surviving member of a group of seven Iranian Kurdish men who were first arrested between early December 2009 and late January 2010 and later sentenced to death for "corruption on earth" over alleged membership of extremist groups, it said.

Six men convicted in the same case have been executed in the last months almost one-and-a-half decades after their initial arrest, the last being Khosro Besharat who was hanged in Ghezel Hesar prison outside Tehran this week.

There has been an international outcry meanwhile over the death sentence handed out last month to Iranian rapper Toomaj Salehi, seen by activists as retaliation for his music backing the 2022 protests. His lawyers are appealing the verdict.

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