Al Jazeera:

Iran hanged at least 834 people in 2023, the second-highest number of executions in two decades, according to a report released by rights groups.

The report, released on Tuesday by Norway-based Iran Human Rights (IHR) and Paris-based Together Against the Death Penalty (ECPM), suggests that the 43 percent spike in the use of capital punishment last year came in reaction to nationwide protests prompted by the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini in 2022.

However, while nine executions were directly linked to attacks on security forces during the 2022 protests, the use of capital punishment was also stepped up in relation to other charges. Drug-related cases accounted for more than half of the total, with 471 people executed on such charges.

The report also notes that members of ethnic minorities, notably the Sunni Baluch from the southeast of Iran, were “grossly overrepresented amongst those executed”.

At least 167 members of the Baluch minority were put to death, accounting for 20 percent of the total last year. The minority accounts for about 5 percent of Iran’s population.

IHR director Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam described the figures as a “staggering total”.

“Instilling societal fear is the regime’s only way to hold on to power, and the death penalty is its most important instrument,” he said.

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