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Iran hangs 11 from Baluch minority on drug charges in 48 hrs: NGO

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Iran hanged 11 members of the Baluch minority on drugs charges within a 48-hour period, an NGO said Wednesday, raising alarm the community is disproportionately targeted in a spate of executions.

Nine Iranian Baluchis and two Baluchi citizens of neighbouring Afghanistan were hanged between the early morning on Sunday and early Tuesday, Norway-based Iran Human Rights (IHR) said.

The group added that it recorded a total of 61 executions across Iran in July as Iran presses ahead with a surge in capital punishment that has now seen the country put to death 423 people this year.

Campaigners accuse Iran of using capital punishment as an instrument to spread fear throughout the population in the wake of the protest movement that erupted last September over the death of Mahsa Amini, 22. The Iranian-Kurdish woman had been detained for allegedly flouting the Islamic republic’s strict dress rules for women.

IHR said that while members of the Baluch minority — who adhere to the Sunni strain of Islam and not the Shiism predominant in Iran — make up only two to six percent of the population, they accounted for a third of all executions in 2022.

Eight Baluch men were executed on drugs charges in the main prison of Zahedan, the capital of Sistan-Baluchistan province, between July 30 and August 1, it said.

Another Baluch man was executed on similar charges on July 31 at a prison in Birjand city in the eastern province of Khorosan, it added.

Mohammad Arbab, 30, and 32-year-old Asadollah Amini, two Afghan nationals of Baluch ethnicity, were secretly executed in Zabol Prison in Sistan-Baluchistan on 30 and 31 July, it said.

The number of executions in Iran on drug-related charges dropped dramatically in 2018 following amendments to the anti-narcotics law but has surged again since 2021.

IHR said almost half of the 256 people executed on drug-related charges in 2022 were members of the Baluch community.

After Amini’s death in Tehran, protests also took place in Zahedan, fuelled by long-held anger over discrimination of the Baluch minority and intially sparked by the alleged rape of a teenage girl by a police officer in the region.

Rights groups say the demonstrations were targets of deadly crackdowns by the security forces in Iran’s poorest region.

Iran is the world’s second biggest executioner after China for which no data is available, according to another rights group, Amnesty International.

 

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