2008 may have played host to worldwide celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but it was a bad year for human rights in Iran - even by recent standards. Iran executed at least 320 people last year, maintaining its grim record of more executions per capita than any other country. At least seven of those 320 were juvenile offenders, and in December two executions were carried out by stoning - despite explicit statements made by the Iranian judiciary in 2008 banning both barbaric practices.
The forcible closure in December of the Centre for Human Rights Defenders, founded by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Shirin Ebadi, was a blow to the entire human rights movement in Iran, demonstrating the government's zero tolerance approach to those courageous individuals who fight for the basic human rights so many of us take for granted, and dashing hopes for an early improvement in the situation in 2009.
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