Iran drug offences village executed Sistan Baluchestan
An Iranian policeman guards the 3,000 kilograms of opium seized from the drug smugglers during a ceremony concluding anti-narcotics maneuvers in Iran's southeastern city of Zahedan on May 20, 2009. Getty Images/AFP/Behrouz Mehri

Iranian officials executed all the men from a village in the southern part of the country for drug offenses, Shahindokht Molaverdi, vice president for Women and Family Affairs in the country, said in an interview earlier this week. The comments from the senior government official are rare as it highlighted the high rate of executions of drug traffickers in the country.

“We have a village in Sistan and Baluchestan province where every single man has been executed,” Molaverdi said in an interview with the semi-official Mehr news agency earlier this week, without naming the village or if the executions took place at the same time or over a period of time.

Molaverdi also said in the interview that the country has brought back the family support programs that were discontinued. “Their children are potential drug traffickers as they would want to seek revenge and provide money for their families. There is no support for these people,” Molaverdi said, according to the Guardian, adding: “We believe that if we do not support these people, they will be prone to crime, that’s why the society is responsible for the families of those executed.”

Ahmed Shaheed, the U.N. special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, said, according to the Guardian, that Sistan and Baluchestan, where the village is believed to be located, is “arguably the most underdeveloped region in Iran, with the highest poverty, infant and child mortality rates, and lowest life expectancy and literacy rates in the country,” adding: “The province … experiences a high rate of executions for drug-related offenses or crimes deemed to constitute ‘enmity against God’ in the absence of fair trials.”

The Guardian also cited a report by Amnesty International to say that Iran has the second-highest number of executions after China and added that in 2015, the country recorded a “staggering execution rate” in the Islamic republic with “nearly 700 people put to death in the first half of the year alone.” In 2014, this number stood at 753, and most of them were drug offenders.

Several activists have urged the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to stop funding to Iran’s narcotics program until the country stops capital punishment for drug-related crimes. The opposition to such programs came after it was revealed last year that the UNODC was confirming a multimillion-dollar funding package that included European money, for Iran’s counter-narcotics trafficking programs despite its high execution rate. According to Reprieve, an anti-death penalty campaigning group, the latest $20 million deal was signed for Iran at the beginning of 2016.

“The apparent hanging of every man in one Iranian village demonstrates the astonishing scale of Iran’s execution spree. These executions – often based on juvenile arrests, torture, and unfair or nonexistent trials – show total contempt for the rule of law, and it is shameful that the UN and its funders are supporting the police forces responsible,” Mary Foa, a member of Reprieve, said, according to the Guardian.

She also renewed the organization’s demand against the U.N. funding and said, according to the Guardian: “UNODC must urgently make its new Iran funding conditional on an end to the death penalty for drug offences.” In a report published January, Amnesty reportedly said that Iran executed 73 juveniles between 2005 and 2015.

Iran neighbor to Afghanistan which is a leading producer and supplier of the drugs sold round the world, and several young people have fallen prey to the inexpensive and highly addictive drugs from there. Critics claim that the executions over the drug trafficking has not helped the country much.