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Iran Hits Back At Criticism Over Executions

Iranian criminals hang limply from the nooses during public execution

Iran has reacted angrily to criticism of the country's recent executions of up to 20 people.

State media quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi on August 6 as accusing the West of meddling in internal Iranian affairs.

"While Iran is itself a victim of terrorism, it will do its best to maintain the safety of its citizens," Ghasemi said.

Ghasemi said the 20 men had murdered innocent civilians and spread terror.

Reports suggested that most -- if not all -- of those hanged this week were Sunni Muslims from the Kurdish community.

On August 5, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein described the executions as "a grave injustice," saying they followed "the application of overly broad and vague criminal charges, coupled with a disdain for the rights of the accused to due process and a fair trial."

Iran, which is predominantly Shi'ite, executed at least 977 people last year, according to Amnesty International.

The organization said Iran was the second most prolific executioner in the world last year, after China.

Based on reporting by AP and dpa