Iran executes two political prisoners in two days

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Iran said it executed on Wednesday a Kurdish militant who had been convicted of killing a police officer, a move condemned by rights groups who called him a political prisoner.

This came two days after activists reported the execution of another political prisoner.

“Arash Ahmadi, also known as Sarkot, a member of the Komala terrorist group, was executed this morning,” Iranian state television said.

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It said Ahmadi, 29, had assassinated police major Hassan Maleki in Ravansar, a town in the western province of Kermanshah, in August 2018.

The channel showed videos of Ahmadi “confessing” that he had been behind the attack.

Such videos are common in Iran and are frequently condemned by rights groups, arguing that confessions are often forced and the result of torture.

Foreign-based rights groups said Ahmadi was arrested in early 2021 while attempting to flee overland to Europe after being convicted of the murder.

He had always denied the charges.

Ahmadi was hanged on Wednesday morning at a prison in the western city of Kermanshah, the Norway-based Iran Human Rights (IHR) group, Kurdish-focused Hengaw group and Paris-based Kurdistan Human Rights Network said in separate statements.

The execution was carried out in secret without his family being notified in advance, they added.

A political activist, he had been a member of the Kurdish Komala political party, which pushes for greater autonomy for Iran’s Kurdish minority but is banned as a terror group by Tehran, they said.

He had spent some time in neighboring Iraq where Komala’s leadership is based, before returning to Iran, they added.

“The execution of this Kurdish political prisoner was carried out without notifying the family and conducting a last meeting,” IHR said.

Kurdistan Human Rights Network said, citing relatives, that Ahmadi had been “subjected to severe torture to accept the accusations against him and make forced confessions.”

On Monday, Iran executed Hassan Abeyat, an ethnic Arab, the Ahwaz Human Rights Organization (AHRO), which monitors human rights violations in Arab-populated regions in southwest Iran, said.

Abeyat had been in prison since 2011-2012 on charges of membership in an opposition group, it said.

The executions come weeks after state media reported that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had pardoned “tens of thousands” of prisoners, including many arrested in recent anti-regime protests following the death in custody of Mahsa Amini in September.

Rights activists expressed skepticism over that announcement at the time, pointing out that many prominent figures remain in jail and activists continue to be arrested.

Iran executes more convicts every year than any other country except than China, according to rights groups including Amnesty International.

Campaigners have also accused Tehran of using the death penalty as a weapon to suppress the protests that erupted after the death of Kurdish-Iranian Amini, who had been arrested for allegedly violating the strict dress code for women.

It has already executed four men on charges related to the protests while IHR says 87 people have been executed so far in 2023 alone.

Amnesty said Wednesday that Iranian authorities had “forcibly disappeared” four Kurdish dissidents linked to Komala who were now at “grave risk” of unfair trials on charges that carry the death penalty.

The four men -- Pejman Fatehi, Vafa Azarbar, Mohammad Faramarzi and Mohsen Mazloum -- were arrested in July 2022 and are believed to be facing spying and terror charges.

Amnesty accused Iran of “concealing their fate and whereabouts from their families and lawyer since their arrests.”

With AFP

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