Iran executed seven men in two prisons outside Tehran on drugs and rape charges on Wednesday, a rights group said, accelerating what activists describe as a hanging spree over the past two weeks.
Three men were executed on drug-related charges in Ghezal Hesar prison in the city of Karaj outside Tehran, the Norway-based Iran Human Rights (IHR) NGO said.
It added that four other men were hanged on rape charges in Rajai Shahr prison, also in Karaj.
The judiciary’s Mizan Online website confirmed the three executions on drug charges, saying the convicts were members of a cocaine distribution cartel.
There has been no official confirmation so far of the four executions on rape charges.
IHR said the latest hangings mean Iran has seen at least 64 executions in the last 12 days alone.
“The killing machine of the government is accelerating — its goal is to intimidate the people and its victims are the weakest people in society,” said IHR director Mahmood Amiry Moghaddam.
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IHR posted footage which it said showed families of the three men executed on drug charges protesting outside Ghezel Hesar prison in a last-ditch bid to stop the hangings.
Gunfire was audible in the video and it said police used tear gas and batons to disperse the protest. One family member was hospitalised with severe injuries after being beaten, it added.
Campaigners accuse Iran of using the death penalty as a means to intimidate the public following weeks of protests that erupted in September last year following the death in custody of Mahsa Amini after she was arrested for allegedly violating Iran’s dress rules for women.