Mass Execution in Iran

International observers and rights monitors have expressed grave concern over the reported mass execution earlier this month of some two dozen Sunni Iranians. There are few details available about the individuals executed, but most, if not all, were ethnic Kurds, had been held at Gohardasht Prison, and were accused by the government of terrorist activity. They allegedly had been charged with the crime of “enmity against God.” There are reports that the prisoners had been tortured in order to elicit confessions, and that their trials were unfair, short, and secret.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said that the “application of overly broad and vague criminal charges, coupled with a disdain for the rights of the accused to due process and a fair trial, have in these cases led to a grave injustice.”

Human Rights Watch said, “Iran's mass execution of prisoners on August a shameful low point in its human rights record. With at least 230 executions since January 1, Iran is yet again the regional leader in executions but a laggard in implementing the so far illusory penal code reforms meant to bridge the gap with international standards.”

In its most recent report on human rights world-wide, the State Department said that in Iran there were “severe restrictions of civil liberties,” including the freedoms of expression, religion, and assembly, as well as abuse of due process. The report noted that the Iranian government “disproportionately targeted minority groups, including Kurds, Arabs, Azeris, and Baluchis, for arbitrary arrest, prolonged detention, and physical abuse,” and that the “government's application of the death penalty disproportionately affected ethnic minorities.”

Regarding the reported mass execution of the Kurdish-Iranian prisoners, State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner said that the United States “reaffirm[s] our calls for Iran to respect and protect human rights and to ensure fair and transparent judicial proceedings in all cases.”

Mr. Toner noted that the United States has consistently expressed concern about Iran's human rights record through a range of channels, and that the United States would continue to highlight that record within the United Nations framework and elsewhere.