Iran on Wednesday hanged a woman convicted of murdering her husband, whom she married while still a child, defying an international campaign for clemency, rights groups said.
Samira Sabzian, who had been in prison for the past decade, was executed at dawn in Ghezel Hesar prison in the Tehran satellite city of Karaj, the Norway-based Iran Human Rights (IHR) group said. Her execution comes as concern grows over the number of people executed this year by Iran, where hundreds of people have been hanged mainly on murder and drug charges, including more than a dozen women.
IHR said Sabzian was a child bride who had married her husband at the age of 15 and had been a victim of domestic violence, according to relatives. The Hengaw rights group also confirmed the execution of the woman, now believed to be in her late 20s or early 30s, saying that she was originally from the city of Khorramabad in the western Lorestan province.
Amnesty International said it was horrified by the reports of the “chilling execution,” saying the mother of two was “subjected to a forced and early marriage as a child.” The office of the U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights said it was alarmed by the execution, saying Sabzian had been forced to marry her husband at age 15.
“We again urge Iran to establish a moratorium on all executions with a view to abolishing death penalty,” it added. The execution has so far not been reported by media inside Iran. Sabzian was arrested about a decade ago when she was age 19, IHR said. She had two children who she had not seen since her arrest until a final meeting in prison earlier this month, IHR said. “Samira was a victim of years of gender apartheid, child marriage and domestic violence, and today she fell victim to the incompetent and corrupt regime’s killing machine,” said IHR director Mahmood-Amiry Moghaddam.
Rights groups have raised alarm over a surge in executions in Iran this year, with at least 115 people put to death in November alone, according to Amnesty International. “The international community must urgently call on Iran’s authorities to immediately establish an official moratorium on executions,” Amnesty said.
The British government had called on Iran to spare Sabzian’s life. According to IHR, 18 women have now been executed in Iran this year, including Samira Sabzian.
Rights groups have repeatedly said Iran’s Sharia-based murder laws fail to take into account potentially mitigating factors such as abuse or domestic violence in such cases. Iran has executed eight men in cases related to the protests that erupted in September 2022, but rights groups argue that the surge in hangings on all charges is aimed at instilling fear in the wider population. According to IHR, Iran executed 582 people in 2022, but this year’s total is expected to be significantly higher.