By the time we wake up from a regular night’s sleep, three Iranians have been executed. That sobering statistic is based on the tally that is allowed to be publically disseminated by Iran’s state-run media. The real number, including secret hangings, is thought to be considerably higher. Fifty-seven people have been hanged by the regime in the past week alone, translating into roughly one execution every three hours. And group hangings are all too common: On May 21, state-run media reported the execution of 14 prisoners en masse in the capital Tehran. All this happens as the permanent UN Security Council members and Germany sit down to talk with the regime over its nuclear program.
No other country in the world executes more people per capita than Iran. And that is telling: the Iranian people are not backing down from their demands to change the regime. The point of the hangings is to convert dissent into at least protracted pacifism, which in turn guarantees the regime’s survival. Lacking legitimacy and popularity, the regime needs to impose itself forcefully on the population through hangings and other suppressive measures.
In the same vein, its attempts to acquire nuclear weapons are the result of its need to forcefully impose its illegitimate means of projecting power externally. Domestic brutality and outward bullying are two sides of the same coin. They are hardly signs of strategic prowess; they reveal a regime mindful of a dismal future.
Among Tehran’s crippling crises are economic predicaments brought on by endemic mismanagement and loose international sanctions, growing international isolation, and unprecedented infighting and defections at the highest echelons of power.
The wheels of Iran's Murder Machine turn in tandem with its nuclear machine; one is used for internal and the other for external subjugation. Just as Tehran tramples upon almost every human rights law and principle by its viciousness towards the Iranian people, it will never respect its nuclear obligations. It is this common incongruity with the regime’s very nature that forges a strategic bond between the Iranian people and the international community.
That is why the current wave of hangings should be condemned by the international community, and the UN Human Rights Council and other relevant bodies should take immediate action to end the regime’s brutality.
But, as the regime tries to stall further sanctions and buy time for its nuclear adventurism through futile talks, foreign interlocutors should be on alert that engaging the regime will in effect tell Tehran that it has succeeded in imposing its illegitimate self onto the world. This will ensure Tehran that it can similarly succeed in imposing itself onto the Iranian people only if it improves its Murder Machine. And as that domestic engine gets upgraded, so will the ones for its nuclear proliferation and terrorism abroad.