Iran's regime is on an execution spree

An Iranian exile shouts slogans to protest against executions in Iran during a demonstration in front of the Iranian embassy in Brussels December 29, 2010.ReutersAn Iranian exile shouts slogans to protest against executions in Iran during a demonstration in front of the Iranian embassy in Brussels December 29, 2010.

Since the beginning of the year, Iran, which just signed an agreement with a US-led group of countries aimed at limiting its nuclear program, has executed almost 700 people,
Al Arabiya reports.

Between January 1st and July 15th, Iran has executed 694 people, according to Amnesty International, an unprecedented spike in the pace of executions for the 36-year-old regime.

The London-based organisation also predicts that if Iran continues executions at this pace, they will soon surpass the total number of Iranian executions for all of 2014.

Amnesty International added that the surge “reveals just how out of step Iran is with the rest of the world when it comes to the use of the death penalty.”

The human rights organisation went on to describe the state of the judicial process in Iran, saying that defendants are often denied access to lawyers and that no proper procedures for appeal are in place. While the reasons for this year’s surge in executions are unclear, most people executed in 2015 were convicted on drug charges, according to Amnesty.

One possible reason for the high pace of executions was suggested by Karim Sadjadpour in a media call organised by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, held shortly after Iran struck a nuclear deal with six world powers, an agreement that could lead to a closer relationship between Iran and many western nations.

Sadjadpour, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said the Iranian regime tends to increase internal oppression during times of flexibility in its foreign policy.

“In the few instances historically where we’ve seen the regime compromised, they have clamped down internally to send a signal to the population that external flexibility doesn’t mean internal weakness,” Sadjadpour said.

Iran may now be cracking down internally to signal to the regime’s opponents that its willingness to sign a deal with the regime’s top foreign enemy doesn’t translate into an opening of the political space. In effect, the government wants to ensure that its willingness to compromise on something as important as the country’s nuclear program doesn’t weaken its position internally.

Said Boumedouha, the deputy head of Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa Program, said the spike in the number of executions “paints a sinister picture of the machinery of the state carrying out premeditated, judicially-sanctioned killings on a mass scale.”

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