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Iran Drug Execution Frenzy Continues This Year

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #771)
Drug War Issues
Politics & Advocacy

Last Wednesday, three men convicted of drug related charges were hanged in the prison in the Iranian city of Isfahan, state media reported. The prisoners died unnamed; only the charges and the fact of their execution were mentioned.

That's par for the course for the Islamic Republic, which in recent years has emerged as one of the world's most prolific executioners of drug offenders. Hundreds were sent to the gallows for drug offenses last year (a final tally isn't in yet) and nearly 500 the year before that, according to Iranian human rights sources and state media reports compiled by the anti-death penalty group Hands Off Cain. 21 more were executed in January alone, bringing the total so far this year to 24.

It's a grim litany:

  • Five prisoners executed January 30 at the prison in Kerman for "armed trafficking of 53 kilograms and 250 grams of opium."
  • One man hanged January 28 at the prison in Mianeh for selling 890 grams of crack. In addition to being executed, this unnamed man was fined $3 million rials for being a drug addict.
  • Six prisoners, including two women and one Afghan, hanged January 27 in Esfahan after being convicted of drug trafficking.
  • One man identified only as "Ch.P." hanged January 24 at Sharoos Prison for trafficking 1.94 kilograms of morphine.
  • Three prisoners identified only by their initials fined, lashed, and hanged January 23 at Qazvin Prison for "possession and trafficking of narcotic drugs."
  • Two prisoners, "M. Sh." and M. F.," hanged January 16 at Semnan Prison for trafficking 6.732 grams of crack and 1,739 grams of crack and 30.8 grams of crystal meth, respectively.
  • Two prisoners hanged January 6 in Khomarabad for "possession and trafficking of drugs."
  • One unnamed prisoner hanged January 2 in the prison at Yasouj for trafficking 20,050 ampules of heroin and 74,917 "psychotropic pills."

The practice of imposing the death penalty for drug offenses is frowned upon by the United Nations, a stance embraced by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.

"UNODC advocates the abolition of the death penalty and calls upon Member States to follow international standards concerning prohibition of the death penalty for offenses of a drug-related or purely economic nature," the international agency said in 2010 report (see page eight).

The Iranian resort to the death penalty for drug offenses has attracted international condemnation from the likes of Amnesty International and the Norway-based human rights group Iran Human Rights, which in 2011 helped launch the International Campaign Against the Death Penalty in Iran.

More broadly, Harm Reduction International has an ongoing Death Penalty Project aimed at the 32 countries that have laws on the books allowing the death penalty for drug offenses. Opponents of the death penalty for drug offenses argue that such statutes violate UN human rights laws, which say the death penalty can be applied only for "the most serious crimes."

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Tony Aroma (not verified)

I hope the Death Penalty Project is going after the US too, as we still have the death penalty on the books for some drug offenses.

Mon, 02/11/2013 - 12:42pm Permalink
Uncle Bob (not verified)

Even with these harsh penalties, they STILL haven't succeeded in effective Demand Reduction.  It is impossible.  This proves to the world that the War on Drugs is a fallacy.  There will always be a demand for drugs in this world, even if the penalty is death.

The ONLY responsible course to take is HARM REDUCTION!!

Tue, 02/12/2013 - 2:15am Permalink
kickback (not verified)

The U.S. War Machine want`s to wage war against Iran . Do you think they actually care about any of this ? Who keeps the United Nations funded ? How has the Opium harvest been going in Afghanistan since the U.S.A. invasion ? That invasion to keep Americans  " safe " ? .  . .How`s Wall Street bank`s doing ?  It`s all a sham . It`s all about $$$ and POWER .  You pay and it`s o.k.  . You don`t .... well guess what . . .. ......

Tue, 02/12/2013 - 6:49am Permalink
Paul Pot (not verified)

These executions constitute crimes against humanity for which we must share the guilt. 

Opium and cannabis were legitimate industries in Persia not so long ago. 

It was the west that insisted through the UN that all nations adopt these measures. 

Drugs have to be legalized in the western world to lead the way and encourage reform in more conservative countries.

Tue, 02/12/2013 - 11:24am Permalink
Giordano (not verified)

Yesterday’s Persian Empire was a place where any typical family home kept an opium pipe on the premises that was then offered to visitors upon their arrival.  Today’s Persia is a downtrodden theocracy dominated by a band of morality police who harass teenagers on the streets for their hairstyles, and occasionally hang people for drug crimes.

As bad as prohibition is in an allegedly free country in the West, mandating this tool of destruction upon undeveloped and uncivilized countries like Iran is like handing them a nuclear weapon.  Prohibition in its purest form is always destructive, both of drug users and the governments who naively implement failed drug policies.  The victims of it don’t profit.  The people who do profit from prohibition are typically authoritarian ideologues who, like psychopaths, have no understanding of the consequences of their actions, and who just don’t care.  

Prohibition empowers the wrong kind of people.  And that’s only one of its problems.  Corruption, political intrigue, cruelty, bigotry, racism, culture wars, shooting wars, economic disruption, gang and cartel black-market economics, free trade violations…you’ve got to hand it to them.  Only government screws up like this. 

Thu, 02/14/2013 - 12:09pm Permalink
joebanana (not verified)

It's a war on people who don't agree with the overlords policies. That's all these killings are based on, concepts some people have that everybody else should have the same outlook on other peoples lives as them. A twisted concept that killing someone is better than letting them do drugs, and controlling others actions is worth killing them over. Murdering anybody that hasn't posed a threat to anybody else, is the ultimate sin. Alah will show them.

Thu, 02/14/2013 - 5:07pm Permalink
sicntired (not verified)

That's how Iran describes it's heroin problem.I have seen many recent documentaries from the mountains between Iran and Afghanistan where smugglers are shot right there on the spot.Sometimes they get a chance to shoot back.Of course Iran is a backward country with sharia law.They even hang addicts.I wonder where they got this idea that drugs were the downfall of society?As someone else pointed out,they used to put more than fruit in those hooka pipes.

Sat, 02/16/2013 - 12:47pm Permalink
sicntired (not verified)

I'd take a shot.That's 2.2 lbs of pure Afghani brown.With prices like that,anyone with any kind of idea what heroin is would give that a try.So hang me.500 for opium.Too good to miss.They can only kill you once.

Sat, 02/16/2013 - 12:56pm Permalink

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