The Iranian government is the main human rights violator in the world, and officials think that it is permissible for the government to use state violence to suppress the demands of the people. Security forces use the lethal force against protestors, political activists, ethnicities, religious minorities, women, journalists, and everybody who criticizes government policies. As a consequence of state violence, thousands of Iranian citizens have been killed or executed by security forces. Furthermore, state violence has caused different groups of people have had to leave their hometown to other countries that provide their security. In fact, Islamic fundamentalism, racism, economic interests, and political participation are the significant reasons for the Iran Islamic Republic authorities to apply violence against people to prevent regime change since 1979.
One of the main causes of state violence in Iran is the Islamic fundamentalism that forms the basis of the Iranian government. According to Sharia law, Iranian authorities have executed a lot of people by hanging and shooting in prisons and public areas for a different type of accusations since 1979. Many political activists, opposition members, and followers and activists of other religions like Baha’is, Jewish people, Christians, and Sunni Muslims have subjected to a different kind of state violence like terror, torture, and execution in Iran in the past four decades. Iranian officials have justified their violent and inhumane actions with blaming such as enemy of Islam, fighting with god, American and Israeli agents, the corruptor of the world. For instance, in August 2016, Iranian authorities carried out a mass execution of 25 Sunni prisoners in Gohardasht prison. Persecuting and displacing the members of Bahai faith is one of the main tragedies in Iranian history. In the last decades, Iranian security forces have detained thousands of Baha’is and closed a lot of their business centers. Because of this governmental persecution and pressure, Bahai members had to leave their homes and became refugees in secure and democratic countries. In Iranian authorities’ opinion, Shiite religion is superior to others, and all humans have to leave their beliefs and join to Shiite Muslims. This extremist view causes to eliminate other religions and faiths and has legitimated state violence against members of them from the establishing date of Islamic government until now.
Iran is a diverse country. Different ethnic groups live across the country that they do not have any rights for education to their mother language, and they cannot hold their cultural ceremonies. This policy performs against other non-Persian ethnic groups who must be assimilated into the Persian community and alienated from their culture. Many groups throughout Iran struggle peacefully for cultural and linguistic rights that are forbidden by the racist and totalitarian government. Moreover, they also confront to socioeconomic inequalities and discrimination. As an example, Turkish people make up more than 40 percent of Iran’s population. They live in different regions, mostly in South Azerbaijan, located in the northwest of Iran, but they do not have any rights to learn their mother language in schools. They have to learn Farsi in from pre-school until university. Iranian security forces have suppressed the peaceful protests by Turkish demonstrators against linguistic discrimination and cultural assimilation through violent attacks. Also, other ethnic groups like Balochis, Arabs, and Kurds challenge with similar problems to reach their cultural and linguistic rights. The government believes that ethnic activists are the main threat to territorial integrity and the Persian language and identity, and suppresses them by armed and security forces. Therefore, using state violence, lack of government attention to ethnics demands, and irrational behavior with this problem have put the country at risk of secession.
Furthermore, one of the main characteristics of the Iranian government is a dictatorship based on the Shiite religion. The supreme leader has usurped all the power. He thinks that he is the representative of the god on our planet, and believes he has the legitimacy and right to do anything and to make any decision. In Ruhollah Khomeini’s period between 1979-1988, the majority of political opponents purged and eliminated by Khomeini’s order via violent ways. For instance, Amnesty International recorded the names of over 4,482 disappeared prisoners during this time and were executed in 1988 , but other estimation declared the number of executed prisoners more than 30000 . Since the formation of the government, political groups that have been critical of the government have been violently eliminated from the country’s political scene. In fact, the whole government is a monopole, and officials directly or indirectly are determined by the supreme leader Ali Khamenei. Nobody can criticize him and government policies; otherwise, the critic is severely punished. Additionally, the Iranian economy is rentier and is under the authority of the government. Unequal distribution of economic resources and discrimination in accessing social services lead to an unstable society and result in mass protests. As an instance, Arabian regions are rich in oil and natural gas, but people challenge high levels of poverty and deprivation. Baluchistan province also has the same problem. Many villages do not have schools, drinking water, and health care system. For this reason, many inhabitants find drug trafficking as a good job to get rid of poverty. Most of the time, discrimination and deprivation imposed by the government cause conflicts between different militant groups and military and security forces, which kill many people every year, and has made the region insecure for everyone. Besides, the murder of unarmed people who held a peaceful demonstration to protest the rise in the gas price in Iran is one of the main collective violence in 2019. According to the Reuters report, Iranian police and security forces killed about 1,500 people during less than two weeks of unrest that started on Nov. 15, 2019 . That was the bloodiest crackdown on protesters since the Islamic Revolution in 1979 that was ordered by the supreme leader. Also, in demonstrations against the result of the controversial 2009 presidential election, security guards killed dozens of protestors, and members of the Revolutionary Guards raped detainees in detention centers and severely tortured them. Therefore, unequal distribution of social and economic resources and the inability of opposition groups to participate in the country’s political administration are the most critical factor contributing to the collective protests across the countries that the reaction of the security forces has always been accompanied by intense violence.
The Iranian state has a brutal and pro-government judicial system that carries out cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishments. Every year hundreds of prisoners hang in prisons and public areas. The Iranian regime executes more people per capita than any other country. The total number of executions carried out in Iran stands only next to China, whose population is over 17 folds greater than Iran. For example, the Iranian regime executed more than 280 people in 2019. Also, it killed hundreds of protestors in the streets. Still, the exact number of executions in Iran is unknown, and the statistics published by the Iran statistics center and state media are not reliable. Iran Human Rights Monitor recorded at least 3,602 death sentences carried between 2013-2018. This number includes the executions of 34 juvenile offenders, 84 women, and 86 political prisoners . Consequently, the Iranian government uses the death penalty to intimidate people; nevertheless, the death penalty has had no effect on reducing crime in society.
Different forms of state violence in Iran cause a significant increase in deaths, injuries, and destruction. State violence negatively affects public security and social stability. Moreover, it inhibits economic growth and development of the country. Iranian government forces use this violent way to control the freedom of speech and beliefs and to achieve their ideological goals. Iran’s economy is dependent on oil export and is under the authority of the government. Instead of eradicating poverty in society, the government is spending oil revenues on supporting terrorism and targeting the interests of other countries such as Israel and the United States in the region. Nowadays, we can see a wide range of poverty, discrimination, the corruption inside the government, and state violence against unarmed people that the Iranian government is responsible for all of them. The regime’s behavior and policies have shown until today that it cannot be reformed, and the only way to get rid of it is to change it to a democratic government based on human rights norms and international law.