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Iran sentences five protesters to death for killing paramilitary

Iran issued the first death sentence
Iran issued the first death sentence

Five people have been sentenced to death in Iran for the killing of a member of the Basij paramilitary force during nationwide protests, the judiciary announced on Tuesday. Spokesman Massoud Setayeshi told a press conference that another eleven people, including three children, were handed lengthy jail terms for the death of Ruhollah Ajamian. He added that the sentences could be appealed.

Demonstrations erupted in Iran in mid-September after the death of 22 year old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by the morality police in Tehran for allegedly violating the Islamic Republic's strict dress code. Iran has accused "hostile foreign powers", mainly the United States, Israel and Iranian Kurdish opposition factions based in Iraq, of fuelling "riots", the term it uses to describe the protests.

According to the Human Rights in Iran organisation, at least 448 people, including 60 under the age of 18 and 29 women, have been killed by the security forces during the suppression of the demonstrations. According to the UN, 14,000 people, including artists and cultural figures, have been arrested in relation to the protests. If convicted, they could also face the death penalty.

A general strike has been observed since Monday, affecting shops and bakeries in several provinces, including the capital, Tehran. At least 74 cities are involved. Traffic has witnessed an unusual decline in Tehran, which means that many Iranians have refrained from driving their children to schools, according to Agence France-Presse. Despite warnings from the Iranian authorities, shops closed their doors in several Iranian cities on Monday.

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