Iran May Execute 30 Sunni Clerics for ‘Endangering Security’

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A campaign called Defense of Political Prisoners in Iran published a list that includes the name of 30 Sunni preachers that Iran has threatened to execute.

As reported by Al Arabiya, the preachers are part of a larger group of 200 Sunni political prisoners including other preachers and students of religious science accused of endangering national security and preaching against the regime. Most of the prisoners are Iranian Kurds.

The 30 threatened with execution are held in the Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj, the fourth largest city in Iran.

One of the most prominent preachers, Shahram Ahmadi, was arrested seven years ago for the crimes of taking part in political and religious classes and selling books with religious content. He was arrested with his brother Chamid who was executed in March 2015 at the age of 17.

Chamid, together with five other inmates who were also executed, was accused of taking part in the assassination of a Sunni cleric who was close the regime. Amnesty International as well as other human-rights groups say the five were involved in peaceful, religious activities that included organizing classes of religious studies in Sunni mosques in the Kurdish regions of Iran.

This video shows Bahram Ahmadi, a young Sunni preacher executed in Iran:

Relatives of those executed say no charges were brought against the five for the first four years following their arrests. The group was never brought to a court during that time.

Some of the preachers said they were severely tortured during an entire year of interrogations and held in solitary confinement in an Iranian intelligence facility in the city of Sanandaj in the center of the Kurdish province.

According to the report, prisoners spoke of brutal methods of torture inflicted upon them through letters sent to international human-rights organizations and the U.N. representative for human rights in Iran. 

The torture included electric shocks to the genitals, being hanged upside down and beatings with red-hot wires. They were also not allowed to drink for a number of days, forced to shave their beards and taunted by claims their families would also be tortured.

Sunni activists said most of the arrests were made because of the demands by the preachers that the regime stop oppressing and discriminating against Sunnis. Activists say the regime prevents Sunnis from practicing their religion and rituals freely. For example, last July, after the municipality of Iran supported by the security forces, destroyed the only place of Sunni worship in Tehran, Sunnis have been prevented from building a mosque in the capital city.

The destruction set off angry responses by the country’s Sunni population.

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Meira Svirsky

Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org

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