Media CoveragePress Association
By David Barrett, PA Home Affairs Correspondent
Shocking footage of three public executions carried out in Iran was screened in London by exiled dissidents today.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) showed a 10-minute video which they said depicted the capital punishment of three young men for adultery. The three were hanged by being lifted off the ground by a mechanical crane mounted on a flat-bed lorry.
Several members of the invited audience were moved to tears by the scenes.
The NCRI said it was the first film of Iranian executions to be smuggled out of the country.
Former Labour MP Kerry Pollard, who introduced the video at the Law Society in central London, said: “I have never in my life seen anything like that before and hope never to see it again.
“It is beyond shocking – it is an abomination.
“How human beings can do things like that to other human beings, I do not know.”
He urged the Government and the European Union to cease what he described as “appeasement” of the Iranian mullah regime.
The NCRI said the hangings took place in Khoramabad, western Iran, in August last year.
According to the Home Office, the NCRI distributes anti-regime propaganda and supports Mujaheddin-e Khalq (MEK), a dissident organisation which seeks to replace the mullahs with a democratic, socialist, Islamic republic.
MEK was banned as a terrorist group by the Home Secretary in February 2001.
The NCRI is campaigning for the ban to be lifted.
In the video, large crowds, including children, were shown gathering to watch the executions.
The first sequence showed the mechanical crane being driven on to a bridge and prepared for the execution, with a hangman’s noose of blue nylon rope attached to the end of the crane jib.
Officials led out the first man to be executed, who was wearing a white blindfold.
In a translation of his words from Arabic provided by the NCRI, he said: “Let me see, undo my eyes.
“Hold on, hold on, undo my eyes.
“Please, for God’s sake undo my eyes. I want to see the people.
“We may have committed sins but we do not deserve to be executed.”
He urged young people to live good lives and not to associate with wrong-doers, before the noose was placed around his neck.
The man said the other two men sentenced to die were innocent of any crime.
While the man was still blindfold, with ankles tied and hands bound behind his back, the crane jib was raised high into the air, his body appearing to jerk slightly.
In the second sequence, a second man was shown being hanged on a similar crane at a different location, using a red-coloured noose.
His body was then lowered back to earth to rest on a steel stretcher.
Footage of the third execution was indistinct in the video, which the NCRI said was smuggled out of Iran in the last few days.
Hossein Abedini of the NCRI said: “This is only the tip of the iceberg of human rights violations in Iran.”
Wilfred Wong of the Christian human rights organisation, Jubilee Campaign, said there were at least 159 executions in Iran last year.
“That is the second-highest number of state executions in the world – the first being China with a population of 1.2 billion and yet Iran has only 60 to 65 million,” he said.
“It is deeply disturbing that there is such a high number of executions in the country.”