Amnesty International report amplifies kurdishblogger.com campaign
After months of investigation and campaigning into the alarming rise in the number of hangings for alleged drug offences in Iran, Kurdishblogger.com welcomes Amnesty International’s report Addicted to Death: Executions for Drug Offences in Iran, which will draw further attention to this issue.
The report follows an article by the editor of Kurdishblogger.com, Fazel Hawramy, in the Guardian last week entitled “Why is the West funding Iran’s war on drugs” setting out the contradictions in providing assistance to Iran while President Ahmadinejad regime executes people at an alarming rate.
Behind the statistics there are real stories. In May this year, Kameel, a 40 year-old labourer from the west of Iran, made a distressing phone call to his family from a prison on the outskirts of Tehran. He was in fear of his life and begged his family to visit him after he was charged with being in possession of illegal drugs. Despite the family’s persistence no visit was granted and sixteen days later, the authorities took the family to see their son’s grave in southern Tehran.
Kameel’s case is one of the examples that are included in Amnesty International’s report which details the shocking rise in the number of hangings for alleged drug offences both in public and in prison often in secret across Iran.
Kurdishblogger.com has been campaigning on this issue since July this year, when it released a video in association with Amnesty International of a public hanging of three young men in the city of Kermanshah. Although the hangings back in July were not for drug offences, the manner with which people accused of drug offences are executed in Iran is no different. They are often hanged from bridges and cranes in the centre of urban areas with thousands of watching as if it was a football match.
In a conference organised by the Times of London in mid-September, the British Foreign Secretary William Hague accused Iran of “breathtaking hypocrisy” for executing hundreds of people each year and suppression of dissent at home while supporting revolutions across the Middle East. In that meeting the editor of Kurdishblogger.com, Fazel Hawramy pointed to the double-standards of the British government in providing Iranian security forces with technical expertise for their war on drugs while condemning the regime at the same time. This support which is provided both directly and indirectly through UNODC, while Iran executed 590 people for drug offences according to a report by the British government. Britain has provided £3.6million in technical assistance to Iran for its war on drugs since 1998.
Shadi Sadr, an award-winning Iranian human rights lawyer and the head of Justice for Iran who was on a panel at the conference agreed that, in the light of the information provided by Kurdishblogger.com, the UK’s policy seemed contradictory. “The British Government should review its funding to Iran.” she said.
Less than a week later, William Hague met with the Iranian foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi during the UN General Assembly Annual Meeting and sought “deeper cooperation” with Iran on its counter-narcotic programme.