Yes, many of them are. More people were executed in Iran during 2009 than at any time in the past decade–more than 400, compared with 346 in 2008. There was a lot of political turmoil in Iran during 2009, the climax of which was the June protests and riots after the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad which was widely believed to have been rigged. Not all of Iran’s recent executions are political, however. Although it’s difficult to verify, at least some of the 400 executed in 2009 were criminals–drug dealers, murderers, terrorists, etc., and not specifically executed for political crimes. At least two were executed for adultery, which is punishable by death under Iranian law. We do know that a number of people were convicted by the Revolutionary Courts of the Islamic Republic and many of these were probably political. At least 13 people were executed arbitrarily in July as a result of political activities, and it is believed that Iran is stepping up its use of the death penalty to send a chilling message to those who stand against the regime.
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