The entire adult male population of a village in southern Iran was executed for drug offenses last week as part of a country-wide crackdown on trafficking, state media report.
Iran’s vice-president for women and family affairs, Shahindokht Molaverdi, revealed the news in an interview with the Mehr News agency last week, but did not say when or where the executions took place, or how many people were killed.
“We have a village in Sistan and Baluchestan province where every single man has been executed,” she said, according to The Guardian. “Their children are potential drug traffickers as they would want to seek revenge and provide money for their families. There is no support for these people.”
Molaverdi said President Hassan Rouhani’s government has brought back previously-axed family support programs.
“We believe that if we do not support these people, they will be prone to crime, that’s why the society is responsible for the families of those executed,” she said.
Human rights groups denounced the executions.
“The apparent hanging of every man in one Iranian village demonstrates the astonishing scale of Iran’s execution spree,” Maya Foa, from the anti-death penalty group Reprieve, told The Guardian. “These executions – often based on juvenile arrests, torture, and unfair or nonexistent trials – show total contempt for the rule of law, and it is shameful that the UN and its funders are supporting the police forces responsible.”
China is the world’s most prolific executioner, with Iran coming in second, according to Amnesty International.
The Islamic Republic hanged 753 people in 2014, more than half of whom were convicted of drug-related offenses, the group said. In 2015, nearly 700 people were executed in Iran in the first half of the year alone, it added.
The mass executions have led activists to call on the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime to stop funding the Iranian government’s anti-narcotics campaign until Tehran ends the use of capital punishment for such offenses, The Guardian reports.