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Iran executes two ethnic Baluchis on unclear charges: Rights group

Published: Updated:

Iran executed on Saturday two ethnic Baluchi citizens on unclear charges, a rights group reported.

Behnam and Shoaib Rigi were executed in a prison in the southeastern city of Zahedan, according to the Europe-based rights group Baluchi Activists Campaign.

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The two were members of a local Revolutionary Guards-backed militia, according to the rights group. They were arrested in 2018 after engaging in a deadly shootout with plain-clothed anti-narcotics agents that they mistook for drug smugglers, the rights group said.

The charges against them remain unknown.

The Iranian judiciary has not reported any executions from Sistan-Baluchestan.

Three other death row inmates in the same prison also face imminent execution, the rights group added.

On Friday, Iranian lawyer Mostafa Nili warned in an interview with an Iranian outlet that at least five death row inmates in Zahedan face imminent execution.

Oslo-based rights group Iran Human Rights (IHR) also reported citing an unnamed source that Behnam and Shoaib Rigi were executed on drug-related charges.

The two were members of the Revolutionary Guards, and “it is possible a judicial case was filed against them following disputes they had with officials from the Guards,” IHR quoted the source as saying.

In 2019, Iran executed 30 people on drug-related charges, according to IHR.

Zahedan is the capital of Sistan-Baluchestan, which according to official figures, is Iran’s poorest province.

Iranian security forces often clash with armed drug smugglers and Sunni militants in the province, which is mostly populated by Sunni ethnic Baluchis, a minority in predominantly Shia Iran.

Baluchi activists complain of ethnic and religious discrimination and accuse the regime of deliberately neglecting their region due to its population’s Sunni faith.

Last week, Iran executed dissident journalist Ruhollah Zam, drawing global condemnation.

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