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U.N.: Iran has executed at least 66 this year
“We have urged Iran, time and again, to halt executions,” Ms. Pillay, a South African, said. “I am very dismayed that instead of heeding our calls, the Iranian authorities appear to have stepped up the use of the death penalty.”
Most executions were for drug offenses, she said, but at least three were for political activism. Two executions were held in public, which Ms. Pillay said compounded their cruelty and inhumanity.
She expressed particular concern over three cases in which political activists were executed: Jafar Kazemi, Mohammad Ali Haj Aqaei and another man whose identity the United Nations said was not disclosed.
“Dissent is not a crime,” Ms. Pillay said. “It is absolutely unacceptable for individuals to be imprisoned for association with opposition groups, let alone be executed for their political views or affiliations.”
Kazemi and Haj Aqaei were executed because they were members of the exiled opposition movement, the Mujahedeen-e Khalq Organization, or MEK, said Shahin Gobadi, spokesman for the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran, which speaks for MEK.
MEK, a formerly armed group largely wiped out in Iran in the late 1980s, also is known as the People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran. It became allied with Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq, which helped fund the group’s attacks against the Iranian regime.
Some MEK members are among the Iranian dissidents living at Camp Ashraf, northeast of Baghdad. Following the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Americans disarmed several thousand MEK members and promised to protect them at Ashraf.
Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, called on the U.N. Security Council to impose more sanctions on Iran to address its human rights violations. Iran is under U.N. sanctions for its nuclear activities.
The United States and the European Union list MEK as a terrorist group.
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