The entire male population of a village in Iran has been executed for its alleged role in drug trafficking, according to an Iranian cabinet minister.
Shahindokht Molaverdi, a vice-president of Iran responsable for Women and Family Affairs, said in an interview to the Mehr news agency that she fears violence could worsen in the unnamed village in the Sistan and Baluchestan province:
“The children of the executed criminals are also already drug traffickers. They want to avenge the deaths of their fathers. At the same time they are feeding their families with money from the drugs trade and the people of this village can not be protected.”
Sistan and Baluchestan province shares thousands of kilometres of land borderwith neighbouring Pakistan and Afghanistan and is a key smuggling point for opium and other narcotics. Largely underdeveloped and poor, a large part of the local population relies on the drugs trade for income. In recent years the area has become a base for Sunni, mainly Salafist extremist groups originating in Pakistan.
Both drug traffickers and Sunni extremists have been main targets of a strict crackdown led by the Iranian government.
The exact number of men executed in the province has not been published, but Sistan and Baluchestan figures among the Iranian provinces that applies capital punishment most often.
“If we do not act against these people, crime will return,” said Molaverdi. “Society is responsible for the families of those executed. Although the family support programme was neglected for several years, it has now been relaunched as part of the sixth national development plan.”
Iran is among the countries that carries out the death penalty most frequently, and many of those sentenced to death are done so for drug-related crimes. The country’s national assembly recently launched a bill that would see drug offences punished by life imprisonment rather than death.