When the international community talks about the steps to take with Iran, the talk focuses on their weapons capability. But parallel to that effort, there are NGOs and organizations tracking the human rights situation in Iran. Their findings paint a grim picture of a people being brutally repressed by their own government and forced to be suspicious of their neighbors. It is a country struggling under oppressive poverty, while their government supports multiple military campaigns abroad.
The human rights abuses are not limited to just the men, as women and children suffer from beatings and arrests by the moral police, individuals who can make a snap decision about whether your dress and grooming are considered legal or modest enough. Juveniles are often put into prison for crimes they committed before they turned 18, only to be executed for them a few years later when they become adults.
According to the Iran Human Rights Monitor, 317 people have already been executed in Iran since January 1, 2017. The highest number of executions this year was in July 2017, and the month is not yet over.
Punishments are barbaric, and harken back to the dark ages. Individuals have hands amputated for theft. Others may have amputations and execution as their sentence for crimes against the government, which may never be detailed or explained to the prisoner and their family.
Even those who have been arrested for non-violent drug offenses are at risk of being executed, despite the fact that this violates international law. The Iranian Parliament is expected to vote on an amendment to the drug law that would drastically increase the bar for a mandatory death penalty sentence.
“It makes no sense for Iran’s judiciary to execute people now under a drug law that will likely bar such executions as early as next month,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “It would be the height of cruelty to execute someone today for a crime that would at worst get them a 30year sentence when this law is amended.”
These are just a few of the worst cases, but they are not isolated. A girl as young as nine can be judged as an adult, thus making her eligible for a death sentence. She also is able to be married at that age. Another issue is that executions are often public affairs, scarring the families and individuals who are forced to watch someone lose their life by means of hanging.
One of the key points of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI)’s ten-point plan is to abolish the death penalty. This would be a big change from the regime, where those who speak out politically risk their freedom and their lives.
International leaders are speaking out against these abuses and there has even been acknowledgement of the 1988 massacre of political prisoners, which cost 30,000 people their lives. Yet, those responsible continue to rule in Iran, with no justice for their victims or their families.
The reality is that the situation in Iran will not improve without regime change. Yet, the NCRI and its supporters have shown that a viable option to the regime does exist and can create a democratic and non-nuclear Iran.