Iranian authorities on Saturday hanged 31-year-old political activist Javid Dehghan after the United Nations (UN) urged Iran to halt the execution. Dehghan was accused of leading extremist group Jaish al-Adl and was convicted of shooting two Revolutionary Guards officials five years ago in the Sistan-Baluchistan province.
The UN rights office said in a prior statement that Dehghan had confessed to shooting the guards and to being a member of Jaish al-Adl but that the activist only confessed after being tortured and held in solitary confinement. Dehghan later retracted his confession, causing human rights groups to accuse the State of extracting “torture-tainted confessions.”
Dehghan’s execution was one of 28 since December that targeted Baluchi ethnic minorities of which Dehghan was a member. The UN Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR) strongly condemned these killings and has urged Iran to halt Dehghan’s execution, citing “serious fair trial violations” and human rights law violations. Despite repeated requests for appeal by Dehgan’s lawyer, Iran’s Supreme Court rejected the request. Dehghan’s lawyer had been preparing to request a new trial challenging the convictions on flawed procedural grounds when he was notified that Dehghan was sentenced to death on January 30.
OHCHR has described these executions as government crackdowns on Baluch and other ethnic and religious minority groups — including Kurdish and Ahwazi Arab minority groups. OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said in a recent statement, “a large number of the executions are based on charges that do not amount to ‘most serious crimes’, including drug and national security charges, and following serious shortcomings of fair trial and due process rights.”