Speech Of Ms Monireh Shirani, Situation Of Iran’s Minorities Raised At 6th World Congress Against The Death Penalty,
The Amnesty report for 2015-16 states that “Iran’s disadvantaged ethnic groups, Ahwazi Arabs, Azerbaijani Turks, Baluchis, Kurds and Turkmen, continued to report that the state authorities systematically discriminated against them, particularly in employment, housing, access to political office, and the exercise of cultural, civil and political rights.”
ECPM (Ensemble contre la peine de mort) convened the 6th World Congress Against the Death Penalty on 21-23 June 2016 in Oslo, Norway, to discuss ways forward in the abolition of the death penalty. The event gathered around 1000 participants (ministers, diplomats, parliamentarians, academics, lawyers and members of civil society), among which Ms Monireh Shirani (Balochistan Human Rights Group, Sweden) who presented her view on the state of death penalty among migrants and minorities in Iran. Baloch, Kurds, Ahwazi Arabs, Azerbaijani Turks and Turkmen are being systematically discriminated against and have less access to legal resources to defend themselves than the rest of the population, which results in minorities being the most threatened by executions. Iran is currently among the top countries when it comes to the number of executions in the past 5 years.
Photo courtesy of Abolition Now:
Below is the speech of Ms Monireh Shirani:
Ethnic minorities have long suffered discrimination as they have been viewed with suspicion and considered outsiders or foreign conspirators. The Amnesty report for 2015-16 states that “Iran’s disadvantaged ethnic groups, Ahwazi Arabs, Azerbaijani Turks, Baluchis, Kurds and Turkmen, continued to report that the state authorities systematically discriminated against them, particularly in employment, housing, access to political office, and the exercise of cultural, civil and political rights.”
Executions are part of the state policy in dealing with the ethnic minorities, to punish any cultural or political act. The large-scale executions of political and ideological dissidents have resulted in Iran being in the top countries when it comes to number of executions during the last five years. Other reasons are that the ethnic minorities also have less access to the legal resources needed to defend themselves due to a discriminatory system, poverty, marginalization and living in militarized zone.
There is a clear over representation of the Ahwazi arabs, Baloch and Kurds on the death row and in executions. Iran executed nearly 1000 prisoners last year, the majority of these executions were prisoners’ sentence to death for drug-related offenses. Under Iran´s current drug laws possession of 30 grams of heroin or cocaine would qualify for the death penalty.
Iran views these number as a great victory and defends its acts because they claim that they are in a war on drugs. Some of those who were convicted for drug related offenses were actually political dissidents. In Balochistan entire adult male populations from singled out villages have been executed, the regime fully admit to this and refers to the war on drugs and drug trafficking as crimes which have to be met with mass execution. Some of them were executed without trials others had trials conducted behind closed doors, before biased judges and in absence of legal representations.
One can wonder how this is possible on a large scale.
Well, charges of act on national security and drug related offenses, are among the charges routinely used on ethnic minorities, fall within the jurisdiction of the Revolutionary court which is one for the strictest Judicial bodies.
The Revolutionary court consists of essentially closed meetings, the right of defense is ignored. The accused is not informed of his or her right to adequate defense. The right to assistance of interpretation of the proceedings in his or her mother tongue as Farsi is not the mother tongue of the ethnic minorities not given.
The family is prohibited to participate in the deliberations of the case. The courts is by law obliged to inform the accused of the verdict by sending a copy of the decision to his place of residence and from that time there is a 20 day appeal possibility. The Revolutionary court fails to follow its legal obligations and violates the accused´s rights, because they don’t send a copy, the family is not notified in time.