July 15, 2009

Mass-hanging of Sunni prisoners in Iran

by Sara Levy

Thirteen Sunni Muslims have been executed in Iran for their alleged role in a series of terrorist attacks in the south east of the country.

The members of Jundallah (God’s Soldiers) were hanged Tuesday morning in a prison in Zahedan.

According to the government of Shia-majority Iran, Jundallah is a terrorist organisation accused of killing hundreds of Iranian civilians and soldiers.

Authorities in Iran claim the group receives backing from the US.

The executed men were alleged to have been involved in a series of attacks, including a bomb attack on a mosque in May that killed 25 people.

Iran’s official news agency, IRNA, said the men were accused of being “mohareb” (enemies of God) and of “kidnapping foreigners, killing innocents and of carrying out terrorist acts for the Jundallah group.”

The mass hanging had been due to take place in public, but was moved inside the prison “after last minute consultations,” provincial judiciary chief Ebrahim Hamidi said.

Amnesty International had called for a stay of execution because the convicts had not received a fair trial.

“The Iranian authorities must abide by their international obligations to uphold human rights and guarantee fair trials, which is all the more essential in death penalty cases,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa director.

Amnesty said all 13 executed men were arrested before the mosque attack in May, for which three people have already been hanged.

The London-based human rights group added that it is rare even for Iran – which executes more people than any country other than China – to carry out such a large number of executions on a single day.

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