PAKISTAN/IRAN: 16 Balochis were executed in an act of revenge by Iran 

Between 314 and 544 persons have been executed in Iran in 2013 alone

16 Baloch political prisoners were executed in Iran in an act of revenge for an attack on the border security forces. The executed Balochis were already in Zahedan prison and took no part in the attack. It was alleged that the Baloch prisoners crossed the border from Pakistan and they were executed after an encounter between Mersad, an Iranian paramilitary group and another armed group. In this encounter, according to government news agencies, 17 border security personnel were killed. Public prosecutor Mohammad Marziyeh announced that “Sixteen rebels linked to groups hostile to the regime were hanged in the prison of Zahedan in response to the death of border guards in Saravan, Iran.”

Many Balochi persons have been arrested in Iran on charges of crossing the border illegally, smuggling drugs and creating a law and order situation. However, they are hanged on the charges of insurgency after attacks on border security personnel and clashes with the security forces.

The Balochis residing in Pakistan and Iran are the victims of their regimes on both sides of the border who are happy to use them as scapegoats to appease the public. Balochis want only the fundamental rights that they are entitled to but face enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings in both countries. Balochistan, a vast area of land has bountiful natural resources and Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan have occupied the land and denied the people of their rights to a homeland. These three countries are making free with the natural resources and give nothing back but oppression and fear.

According to the Hizbe Mardum, Balochistan, that on October 25, 16 political prisoners from Balochistan province bordering Iran and Pakistan were put to death by hanging. These hangings came as retaliation for a clash between Mersad, a paramilitary group and another armed group.

Public prosecutor Mohammad Marziyeh announced that “Sixteen rebels linked to groups hostile to the regime were hanged in the prison of Zahedan in response to the death of border guards in Saravan”. He also claimed that more people were to be executed in the coming days. The 16 men who were hanged had already been in the Iran prison system, and were not part of the military clash. Evidence has yet to emerge linking them to the military forces that clashed by the border.

The armed encounter took place in a mountainous region outside the town of Saravan in the Saran Balochistan province. Various references claim that somewhere between fourteen and seventeen border security personnel were killed in the encounter.

The Iranian government has a poor record of disproportionate punishment in executing Baloch citizens and denying them the right of fair trial. Many of the citizens of Balochistan province are minority Sunni Muslims, compared to the Shi’a majority in Iran.

According to the Balochistan Peoples Party, Iran is home to the second highest number of death penalty cases in the world, falling behind only China, a country that has nearly 18 times its’ population. According to official statistics from the Iranian government and reproduced by Amnesty International, 314 hangings have been carried out thus far in 2013. Unofficial death penalty monitors put the statistic closer to 544, and the real number may be much higher. Of these, at least 63 have been public.

In Iran, the death penalty is prescribed for a variety of non-lethal offenses including spying, apostasy, rape, extra-marital affairs, same-sex relations, and drug trafficking. According to the provincial justice chief, eight of the prisoners were hung for drug offenses. The remaining eight had been convicted of ‘enmity against God’ and ‘corruption on Earth’. The circumstances surrounding their arrest, trial, and detention is unclear. However, they were all Balochistan citizens.

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received the names of ten of the executed persons. They are: Hamza Regi, Abdol Wahab Regi, Meherullah Regi, Habibullah Regi, Jehand Regi, Sher Ahmad Hussainzehi, Bashir Ahmad Hussainzehi, Nazim Mollazehi Naveed Shujaee and Hamid Wakalat. Of these ten persons, two of them had already sent appeals to the United Nations pleading for clemency which is further proof that they were already in the Iranian prison system and therefore could not possibly have taken part in the attack.

There are also concerns about the competency of Iran’s legal system. Often, prisoners are denied access to legal counsel and due process. Denying prisoners access to defense attorneys directly conflicts with their right to effective representation under the ICCPR. Legal representation and due process are a fundamental right in ensuring a fair trial. The vague wording of legislation and crimes, as well as low standards for evidence cast doubts on Iran’s judicial system to meet international standards.

There was some hope that new President Hassan Rouhani would bring about changes in the practice of torture and state-sponsored killings. However, since taking office in August, Rouhani’s regime has seen an increase in executions and enforced disappearances.

Article 14 of the ICCPR further provides that everyone “shall be entitled to… adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defenses.” To continually deny minority prisoners the right to due process and a fair trial is to violate international legal standards and the ICCPR.

Iran has been a signatory to the ICCPR since 1975 yet continues to ignore its obligations. The death penalty must end in Iran, especially as it disproportionately affects impoverished and minority groups. ‘Revenge’ executions are not a fair application of the law and will not help to stem violence.

The AHRC urges the Iranian authorities to stop executions in general and of Baloch political prisoners in particular. Iran must respect the basic human rights of the Baloch people and other minorities in the country. The government must conduct impartial investigations into the extrajudicial killings of civilian Balochis and other minorities living in Iran; and take immediate measures to ensure that the enforced displacement of the Baloch people is halted. The authorities responsible for the executions of the 16 Balochis must be investigated and punished accordingly. Furthermore, the families of the executed persons must be given suitable compensation.

It should free all political prisoners and people who have committed any crimes under the laws of the country must be ensured of a fair, free and open trial and access to legal representation.

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Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AHRC-STM-196-2013
Countries : Pakistan,
Issues : Administration of justice, Extrajudicial killings, Impunity, Military, Rule of law, Threats and intimidation, Torture,