In Iran, the regime uses its justice system to repress its people, keeping them under control by means of physical oppression, torture, and removal of their freedom. Once an Iranian is arrested, then they face intense and horrific conditions inside the prison, which can include not having their basic needs met or dealing with torture.
Amnesty International recently published a report detailing the realities of Iran’s brutal leadership. During 2017, there were more than 500 registered executions, but the authors believe that there were many more executions that were not recorded. Hence, families find themselves not knowing what happened to their loved ones. Others are presented with the bodies of their loved ones and claims from the authorities that these individuals committed suicide are considered suspect. More than half of the executions taking place throughout the world are happening in Iran.
Four prisons were profiled in the report. In Ward 3 of Gohardasht Karaj Prison, half of the 180 prisoners under 25 are on death row. Many of these individuals were arrested before they turned 18, despite the fact that international law prohibits juveniles being sentenced to the death penalty.
In Zahedan Prison, there are at least 136 prisoners on death row and some of those prisoners have been there for years. Some waiting for execution were charged with the death penalty for drug offenses, which are typically considered non-violent crimes and international law discourages those individuals being sentenced to death.
The regime is known for using its justice system to eliminate political opponents or to reduce the reach of opposition or resistance efforts. In 1988, for example, 30,000 political prisoners were executed for their ties with the PMOI/MEK. Today, that crime against humanity has not yet been investigated by an international body of law and none of the members of the Iranian government have been brought to trial or held to account.
Iran has suffered some setbacks with the Trump administration leaving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and the new sanctions that the administration is imposing. Still, Iran continues to play a destructive role in Syria and is a source of instability throughout the region.
If the U.S. wants to really make a change in Iran, both in terms of its role in Syria and human rights within the country, the most effective means is to recognize the democratic opposition and give it support. On June 30, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), Iranians, and their allies will meet to discuss the future of Iran without the regime in charge.