Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani ordered the hangings last Monday of a poet and a human rights activist from Iran’s Arabic-speaking ethnic minority Ahvazis.
The internationally acclaimed Iranian journalist Amir Taheri first reported on Tuesday on the hangings of Hashem Shaabani and Hadi Rashedi.
According to Taheri’s report in Asharq al-Awsat, Shaabani, the poet, was arrested in February 2011, and subjected to torture.
Shaabani wrote in a prison letter to his family that he could not ignore the “hideous crimes against Ahvazis, perpetrated by the Iranian authorities, particularly arbitrary and unjust executions.”
He continued: “I have tried to defend the legitimate right that every people in this world should have, which is the right to live freely with full civil rights. With all these miseries and tragedies, I have never used a weapon to fight these atrocious crimes except the pen.”
Rouhani has presided over an execution spree. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran Ahmed Shaheed and the UN’s expert addressing executions Christof Heyns urged Iran last month to stop the surge in hangings since the start of 2014.
The UN experts said “at least 40 persons have been reportedly hanged in the first two weeks of January.”
In 2013, Iran executed 625 people, including 29 women and political prisoners. Iranians faced the death penalty for the crimes of Moharabeh – a catchall phrase for “enmity against God” – or the charge of threatening “national security.”
“It is deeply concerning that the Government proceeds with executions for crimes that do not meet the threshold of the ‘most serious crimes’ as required by international law and when serious concerns remain about due process rights,” said, Heyns.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps presented Shaabani on Iran’s Press TV in December 2011. He allegedly confessed to involvement in “separatist terrorism,” and contacts with former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak and Libya’s former president Muammar Gaddafi.
Shaabani wrote in a letter that he had “never participated in any armed activity, whatever the motives. I disagree with armed activities if there are other peaceful channels to make demands and express our wishes and aspirations.”
Taheri wrote, “Shaabani is not the first Iranian poet to be murdered by the mullahs. The left-wing poet Sa’id Sultanpur was abducted on the day of his wedding on Khomeini’s orders and shot dead in a Tehran prison.
Rahman Hatefi, writing under the pen-name of Heydar Mehregan, had his veins cut and was left to bleed to death in the Evin prison.”
He said former President Hashemi Rafsanjani “succeeded in eliminating more than a dozen writers and poets.
“The worst spate of killings happened under former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami, when more than 80 intellectuals including the poets Mohammad Mokhtari and Muhammad-Ja’far Pouyandeh were murdered