Friday , 21 June 2024

Iranian Crackdown on Dissent Intensifies Ahead of Presidential Polls

Iranwire – As Iran prepares for its upcoming presidential election, the Islamic Republic is intensifying its crackdown on dissent through a wave of new executions and heavy prison sentences.

Despite needing to portray a veneer of legitimacy during the election process, the Islamic Republic appears equally worried about potential protests or factional rifts flaring up.

Its strategy has been a dual-track approach – allowing some political theatre around the polls while doubling down on repression.

Last week alone, at least 8 prisoners were executed for various alleged crimes.

Political prisoner Sunni cleric Mohammad Khezrnejad also received a death sentence for his involvement in the 2022 protests defending people’s rights.

Iran accounts for 75 per cent of all executions carried out globally, making it the world’s top practitioner of capital punishment, according to the Human Rights Council.

In response, prisoners across multiple Iranian jails have launched a hunger strike campaign every Tuesday for the past 20 weeks.

Inmates in the women’s wards and units of Evin, Ghezel Hesar, Karaj, Khorramabad, Khoi, Naqadeh, Mashhad and Saqqez prisons are demanding an end to executions, including canceling Khezranejad’s death penalty.

The striking prisoners demand attention to their plight and support from the broader community.

According to a report by Amnesty International, Iran has reached its highest level of death sentence execution in the last eight years, with the judiciary of the Islamic Republic executing 853 people in 2023 alone.

The report indicates that 481 executions, more than half of the total, were related to drug crimes. This marks an 89 per cent increase in the death penalty compared to 2022 when 255 people were executed for drug-related offenses.

The latest numbers also show a 264 per cent increase compared to 2021, when 132 individuals faced execution for similar charges.