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VS: Iran intensifies rate of 'rubber-stamp' executions


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Iran intensifies rate of 'rubber-stamp' executions

With international eyes locked on Egypt, Iran has dramatically stepped up the number of executions of dissidents and others — hanging 67 so far this year.

The "rubber-stamp" killings — as the Iranian opposition has called them — amount to more than a third of the 179 reported executions in the Islamic Republic in 2010.

If the executions continue at the current rate, Iran will comfortably consolidate its position as being second only to China for putting people to death.

United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay admitted Wednesday that the world body's multiple appeals over the years for Iran to halt executions have been ineffective.

"I am very dismayed that instead of heeding our calls, the Iranian authorities appear to have stepped up the use of the death penalty," Pillay said in Geneva, seat of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Declaring "dissent is not a crime," Pillay also expressed alarm at the large number of political prisoners, drug offenders and even juveniles who are reported to be under sentence of death.

"It is absolutely unacceptable for individuals to be imprisoned for association with opposition groups, let alone be executed for their political views or affiliations," Pillay said.

Pillay has often been reserved in her criticism of countries such as Iran, Sudan and China, preferring to work through "quiet" diplomacy. Diplomats say her latest statements show a heightened degree of concern about what is happening in Iran.

Iranian opposition leaders say the hangings constitute state intimidation of the population after Iran brutally cracked down of street protests last summer following what was widely regarded as a sham re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

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