Iran Amputating Limbs, Burning Political Opponents

Regime continues to torture, kill citizens in record shattering numbers

Hassan Rouhani
Hassan Rouhani speaks to the United Nations General Assembly / AP
October 27, 2014

Iran executed a record-shattering 411 citizens in the first half of 2014 and a total of 852 people in the last 15 months, including at least eight juveniles, according to a new United Nations report that will be introduced to the organization’s General Assembly Tuesday.

In addition to a surge in state-sanctioned killings that a U.N. official referred to as "shocking," Iran continues to torture imprisoned individuals using techniques such as amputation, electroshock, flogging, and burnings, according to the report, which details human rights in the Islamic Republic.

Ahmed Shaheed, the U.N.’s special rapporteur for human rights in Iran, described the situation in the country as "shocking" and pushed countries such as the United States to finally speak up about it.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who was hailed by the Western media as a "moderate," has not lived up to promises to reform the judicial system, Shaheed told reporters on Monday.

Rouhani "is unable to address the issues, unable to arrest this trend, to convert his promises which spoke to arresting this trend into action," Shaheed, who is barred from entering Iran, was quoted as telling reporters on Monday.

Executions in particular have hit record levels in Iran, according to the report.

"Between July 2013 and June 2014, at least 852 individuals were reportedly executed, representing an alarming increase in the number of executions in relation to the already-high rates of previous years," the report states. "The government also continues to execute juvenile offenders."

Human rights organizations have put the number of those executed during Rouhani's term at 967, while Iranian opposition groups have claimed it surpasses 1,000.

Iranian authorities over the weekend carried out the execution of a 26-year-old female rape victim who had killed her attacker in a violent struggle.

Multiple Iranian refugees who have fled the country reported being tortured during stints in Iranian prisons, according to the report.

Many were subjected to "psychological and physical torture" meant to elicit false confessions of crimes, according to the report.

Others who spoke to the U.N. "reported torture and ill-treatment and psychological abuse, such as prolonged solitary confinement, mock executions, and the threat of rape, along with physical abuse, including severe beatings, use of suspension and pressure positions, electroshock, and burnings," according to the report.

Prisoners also faced "amputation and corporal punishment," such as flogging, according to the report.

Democratic rights such as freedom of expression also were reported to have led to executions in Iran, a development the report dubs "deeply troubling."

"Members of ethnic minority groups, in particular those espousing ethnocultural, linguistic or minority religious rights, appear to be disproportionately charged with moharebeh [‘enmity against God’] and mofsed fel-arz [‘corruption on Earth’], sometimes seemingly for exercising their rights to peaceful expression and association," the report states.

Iran is gearing up to further crack down on democratic displays.

Draft laws in existence "appear to further undermine the rights to freedom of expression" and will facilitate  "discrimination against women" by rolling back protection against forced marriage and education rights, according to the report.

Women in Iran continue to face great oppression and state-sanctioned violence.

At least 66 percent of Iranian women reported being a victim of domestic violence, with the current legislative framework in the country being "insufficient to combat such violence," according to the report.

"Laws continue to explicitly allow for non-consensual sexual relations in marriage," the report found. "There are insufficient safe houses for women in need of refuge."

Any Iranian women seeking to leave an abusive relationship, for instance, must "first prove that there is a significant risk of bodily harm or a threat to her life," the report explains.

Moreover, under Iranian civil code, women seeking to obtain a divorce as a result of domestic violence must first prove that the abuse was intolerable," the report says.

Restrictions on the Internet in Iran also continue to grow.

"Severe content restrictions" continue to be imposed and many who skirt the laws can face harsh prosecution, according the report, which put the number of blocked websites at 5 million.

When confronted by the U.N. about this, Iran maintained that it, "(like many countries) blocks all immoral websites in the arts or social groups," according to the report.

The head of Iran’s human rights council over the weekend dismissed the U.N. report.

"Our first problem is that they should explain why [the U.N. wants to send] a special rapporteur, what has happened in Iran that they have appointed a special rapporteur and why this rapporteur is needed for Iran and not for other countries," Javad Larijani was quoted as saying on Sunday by Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency.

Larijani accused the United Nations of fabricating information about the country’s human rights record.