According to a report by The Daily Telegraph on Feb. 9th Iran's ambassador to Spain has compared chopping off the hands of thieves to a "surgeon amputating a limb to prevent the spread of gangrene". Seyed Davoud Salehi called for "the traditions, religion and economic development" of Iran to be taken into account by those monitoring human rights in the country. He also argued that the death penalty was necessary "to preserve the health of society as a whole". Salehi said during a speech in Madrid that the highest court in Iran had decided to limit public executions to prevent images of hangings and stoning in public squares being broadcast around the world and used as propaganda against the regime. "Our laws allow for the amputation of the hand that steals. This is not accepted by the West, but the field of human rights should take into account the customs, traditions, religion and economic development," he said in comments reported by the newspaper El Mundo. "Some laws are needed to preserve the health of society, if not, it would be in danger."Iran has the second highest number of recorded executions in the world after China, according to Amnesty International. More than 300 people were condemned to death last year, an increase of more than 70 per cent on 2006. So far this year 20 public executions have taken place and the hands or feet of at least five offenders have been amputated. The ambassador criticised claims that Iran had a poor record in human rights and attributed it to "the arrogance of the West", which used the argument to harm the image of the country.
Amnesty International warned on Thursday that two sisters, Zohreh and Azar Kabiri-niat, were facing execution by stoning in Iran for adultery. The women were arrested on 4th of February 2007 after Zohreh Kabiri-niat's husband filed a complaint against her and her sisters, Azar and Azzam, and also Azar's husband, Mohammadreza Bodaghi, and another man, according to the group. Zohreh’s husband claimed that they had had “illicit relations” and submitted as evidence video footage from a camera he had secretly installed in his house, which reportedly showed the two women with another man. The five were tried in March 2007 and sentenced to flogging for "having illicit relations"; Zohreh also received five years' imprisonment for forming “a centre of corruption”, Amnesty said in a statement. “But after the floggings were carried out, fresh charges of ‘committing adultery while being married’ were brought against Zohreh and Azar Kabiri-niat. On August 6, 2007. Both were found guilty and were sentenced to death by stoning”, it said. The charge of "adultery" was substantiated solely by the judge's “knowledge”, based on the video evidence and statements the sisters had made during their interrogation, according to the human rights group. Zohreh Kabiri-niat later said, "I do not accept my “confessions” under interrogations, and I deny whatever it is that they claim I said".Iran’s Supreme Court has rejected Zohreh and Azar Kabiri-niat’s appeal and ordered that the stoning sentence be carried out.
The European Union criticised Iran on Thursday for the rise in the number of executions carried out by the state. “The EU condemns the increasing recourse to death sentences and executions in the Islamic Republic of Iran”, the 27-nation bloc said in a statement issued by Slovenia, the current holder of its rotating Presidency. It urged Iran to abolish the death penalty in line with the United Nations General Assembly resolution adopted in December 2007 on a Moratorium on the use of the death penalty.It highlighted the case of Zohreh Kabiri, Azar Kabiri and Abdollah Farivar, who it said were at imminent threat of death by stoning. “Despite the moratorium on stoning, which the EU was informed of by the Iranian side during the second round of the EU-Iran human rights dialogue in 2003, these punishments remain on the statute books in the Islamic Republic of Iran and sentences are still handed down by judges and carried out in practice”, it added.“The EU urges the Iranian Government to abolish the use of cruel and degrading punishments and to abolish immediately, in law and in practice, the use of stoning as a method of execution - as called for in the most recent UN General Assembly resolution on the Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, adopted by the General Assembly in December 2007”, the statement said.“The EU is also deeply concerned about three cases of juvenile offenders who have been sentenced to death. The EU notes that this is a direct contravention of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s international commitments, specifically the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, both clearly prohibiting the execution of minors or people who have been convicted of crimes committed when they were minors. “The EU urges the Islamic Republic of Iran to comply with International Law and to immediately halt the executions of Mr Mahyar, Mr Mohammad Latif, Mr. Behnam Zare and of all other juvenile offenders, taking in consideration alternative sentences for juvenile offenders”, it said.
Two Kurdish students have been arrested in Iran for unknown reasons, increasing the number of arrested Kurdish students to 11.Jamshid Bahrami and Salam Nabati, art and psychology students respectively, were reportedly taken away by agents belonging to Iran's Intelligence Ministry from their house in Mariwan, in western Iran.It has been common practice for a few months now, that Kurdish students, feminists, religious, union leaders and journalists are being arrested without a precise reason.Two weeks ago, arrested Kurdish student Ebrahim Lotfollahi died during interrogations while reportedly being tortured by the authorities in the city of Sanandaj.A judge has rejected the appeal of the family to have an autopsy performed on Lotfollahi's body.The Iranian government considers the minority Iranian Kurds as potential enemies.