Three Baluch Prisoners Executed, Three Others in Imminent Danger of Execution
At Least 10 Prisoners on Death Row in Zahedan, Accused of Membership in Militant Groups
Application of Death Penalty in Political Cases Continues to Increase
Three prisoners were recently executed in Iran, two in the central prison in Zahedan, capital of Iran’s Sistan and Baluchistan Province, and one in the central prison in Dozap, also in the province, all of whom were accused of membership in militant Sunni Muslim groups.
The increase in the application of the death penalty in political cases in Iran has caused alarm among international rights organizations and the UN, especially given the consistent record of due process denials and the use of torture and forced confessions in the Islamic Republic’s judicial system.
Three more prisoners in Zahedan’s central prison are believed to be in imminent danger of execution, according to reports from the province.
Initially a report on the transfer of a number of inmates in the central prison in Zahedan, capital of Iran’s Sistan and Baluchistan Province, on December 18, 2020, gave rise to fears that they were about to be hanged.
The report in Ensaf News quoted attorney Mohammad Reza Faghihi that the death sentences against five prisoners were going to be enforced without prior notice from the judiciary.
The following day, December 19, the Iranian judiciary’s official news agency, Mizan, reported that two prisoners convicted of armed drug trafficking had been executed in Zahedan.
Mizan did not publish their names but the Baloch Activists Campaign (“Baluch” is spelled “Baloch” in native dialect), a local human rights group, identified them as Behnam Rigi and Shoaib Rigi.
It added that three other transferred prisoners in Zahedan’s central prison — Javid Dehghan Khalad, Elias Dehvari and Hassan Dehvari — could also be facing imminent execution.
On December 20, a third Baluch prisoner, Abdolbaset Khesht, who had been arrested by Iranian security forces in 2012, was executed in the central prison in Dozap, also in Sistan and Baluchistan Province, according to Rasanak, a regional human rights news agency.
Lawyer Fears More Executions Will Take Place Before Rulings on Judicial Review Requests
Attorney Faghihi said he had been contacted by families of the death-row prisoners in Zahedan and agreed to represent some of them.
“We studied the cases and began to prepare petitions for judicial reviews by the Supreme Court but we always feared my clients would be executed before a postponement,” he said.
A source with knowledge about the executed prisoners told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on December 21 that the victims had been accused of membership in militant Sunni Muslim groups, including Jaish ul-Adl and Jaish ul-Nasr, created by Abdolmalek Rigi (executed in 2010) and his brothers in southeast Iran.
“The special security situation in the region makes the authorities more determined in carrying out death sentences,” the source said on condition of anonymity. “They think if the executions are not carried out, it could endanger the region.”
Mostafa Nili, a human rights attorney, told Emtedad news on December 18 that there are at least 10 prisoners on death row in the central prison of Zahedan in connection with militant groups opposed to the Islamic Republic of Iran.
“Four of these 10 prisoners are among my clients and in the past month we have been preparing petitions for judicial reviews of their sentences,” he said.