Iran carries out first two protester executions

by Ten Bottemiller

The Iranian government initiated the execution of 23-year-old Mohsen Shekari, one of the protesters that surfaced after Mahsa Amini’s death.

Shekari was one of many protesters detained and killed, though he was the first protester publicly hanged on Thursday, December 8. Shekari was arrested on September 25 and sentenced to execution on November 20 on accusations of him blocking a street in Tehran and attacking a Basij militia member with a machete, according to the Mizan news agency.

Monday, December 12, a second execution took place in Iran. Majid Reza Rahnavard was arrested and sentenced to death on charges of killing two Basij militia members. His execution outraged Iranian people and those all over the world, signaling a continuation of executions with unfair trials and lawyers who barely defend the protesters. 

The country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs acknowledged the first execution on Twitter, saying Iran exercised the “utmost restraint” in suppressing the riots. Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi confirmed protester executions will continue. 

Iranian authorities must “stop using the death penalty as a tool for political oppression and release peaceful protesters,” Special Rapporteur for human rights in Iran, Javaid Rehman, said. “We have received reports of torture including sexual abuse. Victims’ families face harassment and intimidation. The victims’ families are forced to make false statements, under duress, stating that their children committed suicide. Iranian authorities spread false statements about deaths in custody and protester deaths. They fabricate false scenarios.”

The UN Human Rights council investigated the hanging of Mohsen Shekari and looked into at least eleven others who were sentenced to death. “We call for an immediate halt to executions. Death penalty is incompatible with human rights and cannot be reconciled with right to life,” the body said.

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