Amnesty: Iran executions up four-fold in 2011

Crackdown against political opposition figures, groups intensifying ahead of parliamentary elections, rights group says.

Iranian officer checks cable for hanging 390 (R)
 (photo credit: Morteza Nikoubazl / Reuters)
Iranian officer checks cable for hanging 390 (R)
(photo credit: Morteza Nikoubazl / Reuters)
Iran executed four times as many people in 2011 than it did the previous year, according to an Amnesty International report released Tuesday.
The public executions, it said, are used by Iranian authorities to strike fear into society.
Among those executed were juvenile offenders, which is illegal under international law. The majority of punishments were for drug offenses, according to the report.
The report also detailed the intensification of a crackdown against political opposition figures ahead of this week’s parliamentary elections – with the government arresting lawyers, students and journalists and targeting electronic media.
“In Iran today you put yourself at risk if you do anything that might fall outside the increasingly narrow confines of what the authorities deem socially or politically acceptable,” Amnesty International official Ann Harrison said.
“This dreadful record really highlights the hypocrisy of the Iranian government’s attempts to show solidarity with protesters in Egypt, Bahrain and other countries in the region,” she added. “Anything from setting up a social group on the internet, forming or joining an NGO or expressing your opposition to the status quo can land you in prison.”
In addition to attacking political opponents, authorities in Tehran have also intensified their harassment and imprisonment of human rights and women’s rights activists, and shut down a number of NGOs, the report said.
Friday’s election is the first nationwide vote since the disputed 2009 reelection of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which sparked eight months of unrest and a crushing state response.
The vote is likely to highlight the popularity of the clerical establishment, as it stands firm against Western pressure to curb its nuclear work.
Reuters contributed to this report.