Sunni prisoners executed by Iran in a 'revenge' killing were tortured and 'framed' on false charges, according to the testimonies of the deceased men.
16 prisoners from Baluchistan were executed in Zahedan prison last Saturday, with eight men charged with “enmity against God” (moharebeh) and “corruption on earth" for their alleged membership in the Sunni armed group, 'Jundullah'.
According to the public prosecutor, Mohammad Marzieh, the executions were in 'retaliation' for the killing of Iranian border guards during clashes the previous night in Saravan.
The prisoners who were executed had no involvement in the clashes, and the cases against many of the men were marred by allegations of torture and judicial irregularities.
According to statements released by the men before their death, published by the Human Rights and Democracy Activists in Iran (HRDAI), the men had been victims of brutal torture and were forced to confess to false charges.
In his statement, one prisoner, Nazir Mullahzahi, insisted that he was innocent. "I have had no collaboration with the group Jundullah," he said, "all of these accusations are without proof."
Mullahzahi was arrested in 2010 and spent 10 months in solitary confinement. "I was under psychological pressure [and] repeated beatings," he said, "I was connected [tortured] with 220 Volts of electricity."
Being electrocuted at this voltage can be fatal, and, depending on the current, can causes violent muscle contractions, deep ulcerations in the flesh, and vomiting.
Another prisoner, Habibullah Regi, described how he was tied to his bed and tortured. He said that Iranian Intelligence agents framed him, and accused him of false charges.
"They pulled out my toenails," he said, "and gave me electric shocks. They beat me with cables and I was [also] psychologically tortured. Every time I was taken for interrogation, a number of people would punch and kick me."
A third prisoner, Abdul Wahab Rigi, who was only 17 years old when he was arrested last year, described how prisoners were left with severe injuries after prison guards raided their prison ward. The authorities brutally suppressed the prisoners who had attempted to hold a peaceful protest against the prison conditions, with many prisoners suffering broken limbs as a result.
Despite the numerous allegations from the prisoners, documenting the shocking catalogue of abuse they were forced to endure, the Iranian regime still upheld the death sentence for the men.
The executions are the latest in a long list of Sunni Baluchi Muslims who have been executed in 'revenge' killings for events they were not involved in.
Mass revenge executions took place in 2006, following the deaths of Iranian guards in 2010 in Tasuki, south-eastern Iran. According to the October 2010 report by the International Federation for Human rights (FIDH), in response to the attacks, "scores of Baluchis were reportedly hanged, often after summary trials." The report further stated that "many were not perpetrators of the attacks but had family ties to those in the Jondollah"
The Baloch people, who are mostly Sunni Muslims, face a double burden of persecution due to being both a religious and an ethnic minority group. They report widespread political, cultural, religious and economic discrimination.
Numerous Sunni Muslims, especially those active in propogating Sunni Islam, have been imprisoned and executed under false charges in politically motivated trials.
In 2011, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) stated that "Sunni Muslim leaders regularly are intimidated and harassed by intelligence and security services and report widespread official discrimination."
Serious concerns remain about the fate of countless other Sunni Muslims facing execution in Iran following forced confessions and unfair trials.