By: Rasa Azadi
The Islamic Republic of Iran recently executed the entire male population of a village in the province of Sistan and Baluchistan. The men were charged with drug related offences, which is punishable by death in the Islamic Republic.
The men charged haven’t been named, nor has the village that they came from, it seems that the Islamic Republic is trying to keep the executions low profile, in order to thwart backlash, especially during the elections. Though it isn’t confirmed, there is a good chance that the men executed where Baluchis, an ethnic minority in South-eastern Iran, which make up the small number of Sunni’s in the predominantly Shia Islamic Republic. Accordingly, the Iranian province of Sistan and Baluchistan is a hotbed for narcotic trafficking, as hundreds of tons of opium go through this region each year, to reach black markets worldwide.
Subsequently, Afghanistan produces nearly 3/4ths of the world’s opium, and since Afghanistan is landlocked drug traffickers must go through transit countries, in order to reach the global black market. Consequently, Iran shares a long border with Afghanistan’s opium producing provinces, thus drug traffickers have seen Iran as the easiest route to get their illicit products to the global market. Moreover, 80% of Baluchi’s live below the poverty line, thus poor and marginalized Baluchis have had to often resort to criminal activities, such as drug smuggling for a source of income. In addition, Iran has experienced a large substance abuse problem, as it’s the world’s largest transit hub for opium and has nearly 2.2 million drug addicts; accordingly Iran has been waging a fierce war on drugs, which has escalated in the past decade.
Iran has cracked down ruthlessly against drug traffickers, and has some of the world’s harshest laws that often entail the death sentence, when someone is charged with a drug related offence. Consequently, out of the 947 executions last year in the Islamic Republic, 600 were due to drug related charges, and nearly 40% of Iran’s convicted felons are imprisoned for drug related charges. Iran’s ruthless determination in its war against drugs has yielded results, as Iran accounted for 84% of the world’s total opium seizures in recent years. However, these victories have come at a cost, one paid primarily by Baluchis, who are the victims of the Islamic Republic’s war on drugs. Baluchi’s operating in the drug trade are mostly drug mules and never see the million dollar pay outs that black-market drug dealers in Europe or North America reap, rather they make a meagre living that helps them simply get by. Subsequently, Baluchis are the main casualties in Iran’s war against drugs, and the recent execution of all the males in a village in Baluchistan has proven that. Therefore, though Iran’s war on drugs is proving successful in stopping the flow of hundreds of tons of narcotics, it has come at a steep price, one paid in the blood of poor and marginalized Baluchis.