Iran: Sunni prisoners executed before families could say goodbye

Katie Mansfield wrote in The Express about the cruel circumstances surrounding the execution of at least 20 Sunni prisoners in Gohardasht Prison in Iran. The families of those due to be executed were invited to visit their loved ones one last time, but by the time they arrived at the prison, the victims had already been killed.

She said that the victims who arrived to say goodbye were instead “told to go to the morgue to collect the bodies”.

Gohardasht Prison has declared a state of emergency and the executions are said to have been brought forward in order to avoid protests.

The National Council of Resistance in Iran (NCRI), the main opposition group who have been fighting for human rights in Iran for years, have slammed the mass execution. Shahin Gobadi from their Foreign Affairs Committee said: “There’s a long precedent by the regime in first executing prisoners and then informing their families. One explanation for this is that the regime is afraid of a public backlash and protests outside the prison by the families to halt the executions.”

Gobadi added that this situation is “particularly cruel” because the mothers and fathers were denied the chance to say goodbye to their loved ones.

Reports say that some of the bodies were hastily buried in the Behesht-e Zahra cemetery.

Hours before the executions took place, the prisoners were moved by security forces and they had their hands and feet chained. Their mouths were taped closed and they had bags put over their heads. They are said to have been moved to an undisclosed location and the phone lines were cut off in the building. Inmates who are not on death row were put on lockdown while the killings took place.

The President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), Mrs Maryam Rajavi called the killings “an appalling crime against humanity”.

The hangings mark the 28th anniversary of the 1988 executions in which thousands of prisoners executed over a five month period in a series of state-sanctioned killings.

One of the Sunni prisoners executed was Shahram Ahmadi. In 2009 he was wounded while being arrested and was tortured by the regime for 43 months while in solitary confinement. He was sentenced to death in October 2012 for waging war on God.

Mansfield highlighted that over 200 people have been executed in Iran this year with the country having one of the highest execution rates in the world.