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Iranian poet executed after his sentence was approved by President Hassan Rouhani

Freedom House condemns Iran's execution on January 27 of renowned Iranian poet Hashem Shaabani. In July 2013, an Islamic Revolutionary Tribunal had sentenced the poet to death, along with 14 others, on charges of “waging war on God,” “spreading corruption on earth,” and “questioning the principle of velayat-e faqih” (the rule of the jurisprudent, Iran's system of vesting supreme power in an unelected cleric), according to press reports.

Press reports said Shaabani and one other person were hanged at an undisclosed prison after the sentences were approved by President Hassan Rouhani.

During Shaabani's three-year incarceration, he was subjected to severe torture and interrogation. Shaabani, aged 32, was an Iranian of Arab origin and a founder of the Dialogue Institute, which tried to promote understanding of Arabic culture and literature in Iran.

His judicial murder underscores two important trends in Iran: Violent repression of ethnic minorities, of which Shaabani's execution is only one among many examples, remains government policy. And the government's human rights record has not improved under President Rouhani. During the first two weeks of January, some 40 individuals were executed; Iran is believed to be second only to China in the number of executions.

Freedom House urges the Obama administration and the EU to place these human rights violations at the center of their engagement with Iran. Progress in talks to limit Iran's nuclear program will do little to soften the continuing humanitarian disaster that is Iran's human rights record.

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