15 July 2020, 13:42 UTC
There has been an alarming escalation in use of the death penalty against protesters, dissidents and members of minority groups in Iran, Amnesty International said today, following the executions on 13 July of two Kurdish men in Urumieh prison in West Azerbaijan province. Diaku Rasoulzadeh and Saber Sheikh Abdollah had been convicted and sentenced to death in 2015 solely on the basis of torture-tainted “confessions” and amid overwhelming evidence pointing to their innocence.
Hours later a judicial official announced that the death sentences of three young men imposed in connection with the anti-establishment protests in November 2019 had been upheld. In addition, at least five prisoners from Iran’s Kurdish minority and three prisoners from Iran’s Ahwazi Arab minority are at risk of execution. Another Kurdish man remains forcibly disappeared and is believed to have been secretly executed by firing squad.
Amnesty International is calling on the UN and its member states to urgently intervene to save the lives of those at risk of execution, and urge Iran to stop using the death penalty to sow fear and silence political opposition.
“Diaku Rasoulzadeh and Saber Sheikh Abdollah are the latest victims of Iran’s deeply flawed criminal justice system, which systematically relies on fabricated evidence including ‘confessions’ obtained under torture and other ill-treatment to secure criminal convictions. Using executions as a tool to instil fear and maintain an iron grip on society is unimaginably cruel,” said Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“The death penalty is always a cruel and inhuman punishment. The case of these two men is so marred with flaws and lack of any credible evidence that the horror of their executions is highlighted even further.”
Diaku Rasoulzadeh and Saber Sheikh Abdollah, who were in their early 20s and 30s respectively, were taken outside their cells in Urumieh prison on 13 July. According to information leaked from inside prison, they were deceptively told by prison officials that their death sentences had been quashed by the Supreme Court and they were being taken outside prison to start their retrial process. Instead, the prison officials transferred them to solitary confinement and executed them in the early hours of the following day, without their lawyers receiving prior notice.
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