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Public hangings

Kiarash Babai / act
May 27, 2013

The public hanging of two men in Tehran's Artists Park has triggered an intense debate in Iran's blogosphere about the death penalty.

Image: DW

According to Amnesty International, there were 500 executions in Iran in 2012 and 10 percent of these took place publicly. The number of public hangings is rising.

On January 20, 2013, two young men - both under the age of 25 - who had been convicted of robbery and extortion were executed in public. They were hanged from extendable cranes attached to police trucks. This time it didn't happen in a stadium or on a market place but in the capital's Artists' Park - a place where writers and musicians like to meet.

A Berlin demonstration against stoning and hanging in 2010 (Stephanie Pilick dpa/lbn)
The international community has often condemned executions in IranImage: picture-alliance/dpa

Many wondered why the park had been chosen. One blogger from Tehran thought the government was sending out a signal to intellectuals and dissidents.

"The regime wants to show that the death penalty can also come into question for critics." Another blogger supported this view: "Yesterday, an execution on a sports field, today in Artists' Park. Why is the death penalty taking place in such public spaces? Maybe the people are supposed to be even more intimidated."

Other internet users thought that the place of execution was incidental. They called for the abolishment of the death penalty. One user pointed out that not much time had gone by between the arrest of the two young men and their hanging. He questioned the legal procedure and the courts.

Iranian police prepare the public execution of Iranian murder convict Majid Kavousi (EPA/ABEDIN TAHERKENAREH+++(c) dpa - Report+++)
Hanging is still a popular execution method in IranImage: picture-alliance/dpa

Reactions on DW's Facebook page

Within hours, hundreds of users had reacted to the incident on DW Farsi section's Facebook page. They criticized the government and pointed out that the death penalty and public hangings had not reduced the number of crimes in Iran. "If the death penalty had functioned as a deterrent, there would be fewer crimes," one user wrote. "But the numbers are clearly rising."

Many bloggers and users of social networks also criticized the crowds of people who actually watched public executions.

"Going to hangings has become a kind of entertainment today," one user said. Many others also criticized the fact that mainly young people, even children, queued up to see a hanging. "Violence produces violence," one Facebook user said. "Why are you bringing your children with you to cheer at a public hanging?" he asked. "Public hangings are the state's use of violence. Can you guarantee that your children who are witnessing such violence at such an age won't be traumatized psychologically and won't themselves become criminals one day?"

Crowds at a public hanging ( DW / Fotograf anonym)
Bloggers have criticized the crowds that attend public hangingsImage: DW

The blogger Amir Hadi Anwari also called for more restraint. He said Iranian society had a responsibility. "So long as there are people who climb trees to have a better view of a public hanging and who record them with their phones, it is hard to imagine an end to the death penalty. Those who are calling for an abolishment of executions in Iran have no idea about the realities of Iranian society."

There were also some bloggers in favor of the death penalty. They said it was a good deterrent.

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