Recent developments in Iran have prompted fears that the Iranian authorities are once more using executions as a tool to try and quell political unrest, intimidate the population and send a signal that dissent will not be tolerated. There was a noticeable surge in the rate of executions at the time of mass protests over last year’s disputed Presidential elections. Although many of the executions were for criminal offences committed before the unrest, they sent a chilling message to those involved in protests.
One hundred and twelve people were put to death in the eight weeks between the June election and the re-inauguration of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in early August- almost a third of the total for the entire year.
In 2009 as a whole at least 388 people were put to death in Iran – the largest number recorded by Amnesty International in recent years. Figures collated by various human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, suggest the annual number of executions has almost quadrupled since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was first elected five years ago. Many of those executed did not receive fair trials.