03/31/2021, 11.14
IRAN
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Tehran first in the world for executions per head of population

In 2020, at least 267 people executed, including four minors and nine women. China, Iraq and Saudi Arabia follow. The abolitionist front is growing in the Islamic Republic; the wrestler Navid Afkari, symbol of the struggle executed in September. In 2020, a death sentence was carried out for crimes related to alcohol consumption.

Tehran (AsiaNews / Agencies) - With (at least) 267 people executed last year, including four minors and nine women, Iran remains among the nations in the world where the death penalty is most applied and with the highest rate of executions in relation to the population.

According to data from the 2020 report of Iran Human Rights, produced in collaboration with the NGO pro human rights "Together against the death penalty" (Ecpm) and published yesterday, China follows, where the number of killings appears underestimated, then Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

In recent months, the symbol of the executions has become the young fighter Navid Afkari, whose tomb in the village of Sangar is the destination of a continuous pilgrimage of activists and personalities opposed to the death penalty. Authorities hanged him on 12 September in the central prison of Shiraz and devastated his grave in December. However, people visit the village and deposit wreaths.

Navid Afkari was arrested, along with his brother, a month and a half before his death on charges of having participated in protests in the city in August 2018 and complicity in the alleged murder of a security officer, attacked by demonstrators. Today he has become a symbol of the fight against capital punishment.

The link with the executed wrestler is a clear sign of an "abolitionist" trend in the Iranian public opinion of the death penalty. Since 2018, the number of people executed for drug-related offenses has dropped, also thanks to the revision of the legislation on the subject. However, the first three months of 2020 saw a spike in executions despite the new coronavirus pandemic, international pressure and popular mobilizations.

From the joint report of Ihr and Ecpm, the increase in people opposed to the death penalty in the Islamic Republic is a trend that also emerges from "the growth in the number of pardons" granted by the families of the victims to those sentenced to death: at least 662 in total last year, a figure two times higher than that recorded in 2019.

At the same time, 70% of Iranians are calling for "the complete abolition of the death penalty or its limitation to very special cases". Finally, a Farsi hashtag “Don't execute them”, in response to the death sentence of three young protesters, went viral in July 2020, crossing the borders of the country and collecting over 4 million citations around the world in two days.

Raphaël Chenuil-Hazan, Ecpm director general, stresses that "the frequent application of the death penalty in Iran, by hanging, firing squad or stoning, is part of a hardening of the regime that began in 2019, in response to popular protests".

Since then, thousands of arrests have occurred, followed by convictions and executions in 2020. In this context, the activist points out, Tehran has imposed 79% of death sentences for murder, 10% for drug-related crimes and offenses. "A citizen - he concludes - was executed last year for alcohol consumption: the first time in 30 years now".

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