KARAJ, IRAN—- Fourteen prisons are reported dead during an Iranian prison riot Tuesday night. Amnesty International called the deaths suspicious.
“Such a high death toll is extremely worrying. Prison officials have a responsibility to maintain order and to protect the lives of prisoners, but must exercise restraint," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.”
Sahraoui added “A prompt inquiry into these deaths is essential but it must be independent and transparent, as international human rights standards require, such as those set out in the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners and the Body of Principles for the protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment.”
He said “unfortunately the Iranian Judiciary has routinely failed to carry out such investigations, so we are once again calling on the international community to use the current session of the UN Human Rights Council to create a Special Rapporteur to monitor and report on human rights in the Iran.”
The deaths occurred after prisoners began rioting to protest the poor conditions at the prison. An Iranian human rights activist who declined to be identified said he was in contact with prisoners by telephone. The prisoners reported guards shooting unarmed inmates.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is also executing prisoners at an alarming rate. According to International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Iran is executing one person every eight hours. Since the beginning of 2011, Iran has executed 87 people on various charges. Many of those given death sentences are political prisoners who oppose the cleric rule in Iran.
According to Aaron Rhodes of International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, “the Iranian Judiciary is on an execution binge orchestrated by the intelligence and security agencies”. Iranian judges are widely believed to lack independence and their decisions are frequently subordinated to the wishes of security agencies.
The actual number of prisoners executed in Iran is difficult to verify but many believe is higher than is reported. Mass executions are sometimes carried out in Iranian prisons. This year, more than hundred people were executed in a mass hanging in Vakilabad prison, according to International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
The high rate of executions in Iran has prompted the UN to call on Iran to halt its execution of prisoners.
Several Iranians with dual citizenships or permanent residency abroad have been arrested and sentenced to death. Last month, Iran executed an Iranian woman with Dutch citizenship. Another Iranian citizen residing in Canada has been sentenced to death but that sentence has not yet been carried out.
The Dutch government has suspended its formal relations with Iran over the hanging of Zahra Bahrami, an Iranian with Dutch citizenship.
A spokesperson from the Canadian government expressed concern over the death sentence issued against an Iranian computer programmer and a permanent residence of Canada.
In 2003, an Iranian-Canadian journalist was arrested and later murdered by Iranian security agents while in a Tehran prison.The 54 year old Zahra Kazemi was brutally tortured and raped in the hands of her Iranian interrogators. Canadian-Iranian relations have been frosty ever since.
“We know that the Iranian authorities are on a killing spree at the moment, having executed well over 100 people – mainly alleged drugs offenders – since the start of the year. This is yet one more reason why they should immediately order a moratorium on all executions,” said Sahraoui