Iran is on an "execution binge," killing one prisoner every eight hours, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran [advocacy website] said in a statement [text] released on Sunday. Forty-seven prisoners have reportedly been executed in Iran since the new year, many from the country's Kurdish minority. "The execution of Kurdish activists, without fair trials and following torture, increasingly appears as a systematic, politically motivated process," said Aaron Rhodes, a spokesperson for the Campaign. The Campaign called on "the Iranian Parliament and the Judiciary to immediately institute a moratorium on executions and to move swiftly to abolish the death penalty, in the face of skyrocketing executions following unfair trials and opaque judicial proceedings." Iran executes more people per capita than any other country, and in absolute numbers, is second only to China, according to the Campaign.
Earlier this month, prominent Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh was sentenced [JURIST report] to 11 years in prison. Sotoudeh was found guilty [Guardian report] of "acting against national security" and "making propaganda against the system" for which she will serve five and one years, respectively. She was the lawyer for Arash Rahmanipour, who was arrested for his role in the post-election protests on charges of moharebeh, or being an enemy of God. Rahmanipour was executed [JURIST report] in January 2010. Also, this month, Iranian chief prosecutor Abbas Jafari-Dolatabadi delivered a speech at Tehran University indicating that he would prosecute opposition leaders [JURIST report] for political unrest that took place after the country's 2009 presidential election [JURIST news archive]. In November, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] expressed her concern [text] over Iran's crackdown on human rights defenders.