Last July, Amnesty International claimed Iranian authorities executed nearly 700 people in what the rights group labeled a six-month “execution spree.” According to Amnesty, that was almost as many people as were executed in Iran in all of 2014, and most of the victims were put to death for drug-related offenses.
As it turns out, many of them may have come from a single village in southern Iran, where Iranian Vice President for Women and Family Affairs Shahindokht Molaverdi said every adult male was executed after being found guilty on drug-related charges.
In an interview with the semi-official Mehr news agency this week, Molaverdi did not offer many details. But for the first time, she cited “a village in Sistan and Baluchistan province where every single man has been executed.”
She did not specify which village suffered the mass execution — or whether all were killed together or spaced out over time. But she pointed to it as an example of Iran’s failings in dealing with the Islamic Republic’s drug crisis in its southern regions.
Molaverdi said Tehran needs to better support the families these men left behind. Otherwise, she warned, the surviving villagers will be left with no choice but to also traffic drugs and ultimately suffer a similar fate.
“Their children are potential drug traffickers as they would want to seek revenge and provide money for their families,” she said. “There is no support for these people.”
Sistan-Baluchistan province, which borders Pakistan and Afghanistan, is one of the most poorly developed regions in all of Iran. The close proximity to Afghanistan’s opium industry made it an easy target for drug smugglers, and roughly a decade ago almost 4,000 Iranian police officers were killed while trying to shut down those routes.
But executing heads of households in the already impoverished region and not taking measures to then care for their family members, Molaverdi said, will only further the problem.
“We believe that if we do not support these people, they will be prone to crime,” she said.
Photo Credit: BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images