PARIS: Iranian authorities have executed 55 people in 2023, Norway-based Iran Human Rights said on Friday, adding that the surging use of the death penalty aims to create fear as protests shake the country.
Meanwhile, rights group Amnesty International said three young people sentenced to death over protests — the youngest aged just 18 — had been subjected to “gruesome torture” in detention.
IHR said it has confirmed at least 55 executions in the first 26 days of this year.
Four people have been executed on charges related to the protests, while the majority of those hanged — 37 convicts — were executed for drug-related offenses, IHR said.
At least 107 people are still at risk of execution over the demonstrations after being sentenced to death or charged with capital crimes, the group added.
With Iran’s use of the death penalty surging in recent years, IHR argued that “every execution by the Islamic Republic is political” as the main purpose “is to create societal fear and terror.”
“To stop the state execution machine, no execution should be tolerated, whether they be political or non-political,” said IHR director Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam.
He added that a lack of reaction from the international community risked lowering “the political cost of executing protesters.”
Activists have accused Iran of using the death penalty as an instrument of intimidation to quell the protests which erupted in September following the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, who had been arrested for allegedly violating the country’s dress code for women.
UN rights chief Volker Turk has said Iran’s “weaponization of criminal procedures” to punish demonstrators “amounts to state-sanctioned killing.”
On Friday, Amnesty said three men sentenced to death in December had been subjected to torture “including floggings, electric shocks, being hung upside down and death threats at gunpoint.”
IHR and other rights groups have yet to publish figures on executions in Iran for 2022. But IHR said in early December that more than 500 people had been hanged by then — the highest figure in five years — while according to its data, at least 333 people were executed in 2021, a 25 percent increase compared to 267 in 2020.