All of you will be familiar with articles on individuals who have been imprisoned, tortured, or even executed in several Muslim countries. Many such individuals are Iranians, imprisoned unjustly for their beliefs or actions that would be considered perfectly innocent or even praiseworthy in the West. Since the revolution of 1979, Iran has been not only the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism, but also one of the world’s most consistent human rights abusers. In Amnesty International’s most recent (2016-2017) report on rights issues in the country, it listed abuses under numerous headings:
Freedom of expression, association and assembly
Torture and other ill-treatment
Freedom of religion and belief
Discrimination – ethnic minorities
Iran has the sixth highest number of prisoners in the world, although it comes only nineteenth in the size of its population. In 2011, there were 250,000 prisoners overall, a figure that dropped by 2014 to 225,624 — still a very high figure. Even North Korea — which has a vast range of political prison camps, forced labour camps, and other facilities, albeit with a small overall population — has fewer: the U.S. State Department human rights report for 2016 says that estimates of the prison population total range between 80,000 and 120,000.
Iran is also notorious for the number of executions it carries out, often for drug-related crimes, but also on religious and political charges. In an article by Iran expert Majid Rafizadeh, president of the International American Council (IAC), Iran has overtaken China as the world’s worst offender in extreme use of execution as a punishment, often for offences that would not even carry penalties in any Western country, including the United States: