Condemned for Hanging a Woman, Iran Accuses U.S. of Human Rights Violations

By Patrick Goodenough | October 27, 2014 | 4:17am EDT

Rights activists say Reyhaneh Jabbari, photographed here in a Tehran courtroom in late 2008, confessed under severe duress. (AP Photo, File)

( – One day after Iran hanged a woman convicted of killing a man she claimed tried to rape her, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei posted statements on his social media accounts accusing the United States of abusing human rights through its policies in the region.

“What violation of human rights is worse than this?” he asked in a message on his Facebook page, pointing to U.S. support for Israel.

Khamenei also assailed the U.S. for blacklisting “independent countries” and for delisting terrorist groups “for the sake of fulfilling their own interests.” The charges likely refer to the designation of Iran as the world’s leading state-sponsor of terror, and to the State Department’s 2012 delisting as a foreign terrorist organization of Mujahedin-e Khalq/National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an Iranian group opposed to the Tehran regime.

“Americans claim they support human rights; they lecture about human rights; they talk; make policies and determine their stances towards such regimes,” Khamenei said.

“They play games on a global scale. They ridicule public opinion and humiliate humanity. Is there a disaster worse than this to the mankind?”

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Iranian President Hasan Rouhani in October 2014. (Photo: Office of the Supreme Leader)

On his Twitter feed, Khamenei also posted a series of messages attacking Israel, voicing support for Palestinian “resistance,” and calling for Jerusalem to be freed from the “anti-human Zionist occupiers.”

The supreme leader’s online volley came amid widespread condemnation over Saturday’s execution of an Iranian woman, Reyhaneh Jabbari, who was convicted in 2009 of premeditated murder.

Jabbari alleged that the man she stabbed, a former Ministry of Intelligence agent, had tried to sexually assault her, but judicial authorities rejected her claim. Despite international concerns about the fairness of her trial and calls for her to be spared, the 26 year-old interior designer was hanged at dawn on Saturday in a Tehran prison, official Iranian media reported.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki condemned the execution of Jabbari, citing “serious concerns with the fairness of the trial and the circumstances surrounding this case, including reports of confessions made under severe duress.”

“Iranian authorities proceeded with this execution despite pleas from Iranian human rights activists and an international outcry over this case,” she said in a statement. “We join our voice with those who call on Iran to respect the fair trial guarantees afforded to its people under Iran’s own laws and its international obligations.”

Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird called Jabbari “the latest victim of a murderous regime,” describing her execution as “another truly tragic example of Iran’s contempt for due process and of systemic flaws within Iran’s judicial system.”

Other governments and human rights advocacy groups also condemned the execution, with Britain’s Foreign Office urging Tehran to impose a moratorium on the death penalty. The NCRI called on the U.N. Security Council to respond to what it called Iran’s “misogynic barbarism,” and questioned the wisdom of conducting negotiations with such a regime.

Critics say the election in mid-2013 of the purportedly moderate President Hasan Rouhani has done nothing to improve Iran’s poor human rights record.

On the contrary, according to a document submitted by five non-governmental organizations to the U.N. Human Rights Council this month ahead of its periodic review of Iran’s human rights record later this week, the number of executions in Iran has risen sharply since the second half of 2013.

It says some 687 people were executed in 2013, at least 550 so far this year up to Sept. 19, including at least 11 juvenile offenders.  Many executions take place in secret, while others are carried out in public (at least 45 so far this year), with hanging from a crane the most common method.

“The number of crimes carrying the possibility of execution in Iran is among the highest in the world,” the report said. “There are currently more than 80 discrete offenses in Iran for which punishment can include the death penalty.”

They include insulting Mohammed and other “grand prophets,” apostasy, moharebeh (enmity against Allah), “corruption on earth,” adultery, some drug offenses, murder, fraud, theft in certain cases, sodomy, rape, incest and human trafficking.

Early this year a U.N. expert on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, urged Iran to halt a surge in executions.

“It is deeply concerning that the government proceeds with executions for crimes that do not meet the threshold of the ‘most serious crimes’ as required by international law, and when serious concerns remain about due process rights,” he said.

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