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Iran conducts first execution over anti-government protests

December 8, 2022 at 6:59 pm

Participants holding an Iranian flags attend a demonstration in Rome, Italy, on November 19, 2022. [Riccardo De Luca – Anadolu Agency]

Iran has executed a protestor for the first time since the nationwide protests began almost three months ago, as the threat of mass executions of other protestors increasingly looms.

According to the state-run Tasnim News Agency, the man – named Mohsen Shekari – was convicted of injuring a Basij militia guard with a knife and blocking a street in the capital, Tehran, during one of the protests that have erupted throughout Iran since the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini under police custody in September.

His execution by hanging was conducted today as state media published a video of Shekari’s alleged confession, in which he seemingly admitted to striking a member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Basij militia with a knife and to blocking a road with his motorbike alongside one of his friends.

In that video, Shekari appears with a bruise on his right cheek, leading human rights groups to believe he was tortured into giving the confession. Germany also condemned his execution, with its Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock, stating that “the Iranian regime’s contempt for humanity knows no bounds” and that “the threat of execution will not stifle people’s will for freedom.”

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Although Iranian authorities have been executing alleged foreign agents and collaborators throughout the ongoing unrest, Shekari was reportedly the first actual protestor to be executed, as calls within the country’s political system increasingly call for harsher punishments and executions for protestors who are captured.

According to Amnesty International, Tehran is seeking the death penalty for at least 21 people in what the organisation called “sham trials designed to intimidate those participating in the popular uprising that has rocked Iran”.

It called on Iranian authorities “immediately quash all death sentences, refrain from seeking the imposition of the death penalty and drop all charges against those arrested in connection with their peaceful participation in protests”.

On Tuesday, Iran’s Judiciary spokesman, Masoud Setayeshi, stated that five people indicted in the killing of a Basij militia member have already been sentenced to death in a verdict, which they are reportedly able to appeal.

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