New video footage of a public hanging in Iran this week highlights the brutalisation of both the condemned and those who watch executions, Amnesty International said today (21 July 2011).
The video provided to Amnesty was shot on 19 July, and shows the execution by hanging of three men in Azadi Square in the city of Kermanshah. The men had been convicted of rape.
In the 26-second clip the three men are shown standing on top of buses as guards drape ropes fixed to a bridge overhead around their necks, in front of a crowd of onlookers, including children. The crimes for which the men were condemned are announced over a loudspeaker, then the buses are driven away. In the video, numerous people are seen photographing or filming the execution. Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui said: “These latest public executions underline the continuing horror of the death penalty in Iran.
“Not only those executed, but all those who watch public executions, including, children, are brutalised and degraded by the experience. These public displays of killing perpetuate a culture of acceptance of violence and bloodlust, rather than a belief in justice.
“We have also been informed that the arrest, trial and execution of these men took barely two months, which raises serious questions about the fairness of the trial.”
Amnesty said that the hangings are part of a continuing rise in the number of public executions in Iran since late 2010, and of a rise in executions overall. The authorities have acknowledged at least 28 public executions so far this year. Amnesty has received reports of at least another six which the authorities have not acknowledged.
Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui added:“It is deeply disturbing that despite a moratorium on public executions ordered in 2008, the Iranian authorities are once again resorting to this inhuman practice.
“All executions violate the right to life. Those carried out publicly are a gross affront to human dignity which cannot be tolerated.
“Executions after speedy unfair trials are no solution to the extremely serious problem of rape in Iran, which feeds on the acceptance of violence against women at all levels of society."
She concluded:“The Iranian authorities should be aiming to combat this culture of violence rather than perpetuate it through these public displays of brutality.”
The executions follow several widely publicised gang rapes of women this year in Iran. In some cases, officials blamed the victims for failing to adhere to the official code on dress or gender segregation.
According to UN human rights experts, executions in public serve no legitimate purpose and only increase the cruel, inhuman and degrading nature of this punishment.
Iran comes second only to China in the number of executions carried out annually. The Iranian authorities do not publish official statistics on their use of the death penalty, despite repeated calls for transparency by UN human rights bodies.
UN guidelines on the use of the death penalty, in those countries that retain this punishment, state that it should only be used for the most serious crimes. This is understood as meaning intentional crimes with lethal or other extremely grave consequences. Most executions in Iran relate to drug-trafficking offences and rape.