Photo Credits: Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA)
Two men have been hanged in Iran in cases linked to ongoing protests. Mohammad Mehdi Karami and Seyed Mohammad Hosseini were convicted of killing Ruhollah Ajamian, a member of the Basij paramilitary force on November 3 last year in the city of Karaj. These latest hangings bring the total number of people executed in connection with the Mahsa Amini protests to four.
Demonstrations against Iran’s clerical establishment began in September last year, following the death in custody of Amini. The movement has since continued to grow, gaining global attention, and Iranian officials have denounced the protests as “riots” while accusing foreign powers of fuelling the unrest. Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) places the total death toll of protesters at 517, including 70 children, with 19,262 individual arrests. Additionally, 68 of the regime’s forces have reportedly been killed.
The protests on November 3 in the city of Karaj had been a tribute to a slain protester, Hadis Nafaji, who was killed in the early days of the movement on September 21, 2022. Prosecutors say Ajamian, the martyred member of the Basij, was stripped naked and killed by a group of mourners. 16 people were arrested and charged with the killing, while Karami and Hosseini were viewed as the main suspects and instigators.
In December, two men - Mohsen Shekari and Majidreza Rahnavard - were executed, marking the first executions in relation to the protests. Amnesty International has denounced these sentencings and executions as “sham trials” and says Iranian authorities are seeking the death penalty for at least 26 others.
Iranian judiciary news agency, Mizan Online, reported the details of the latest court hearings for Karami and Hosseini. They released clips in which Karami claimed to have struck Ajamian with a stone while Hosseini admitted to stabbing him several times with a knife. However, accusations have arisen of coerced false confessions through torture for both Karami and Hosseini, as well as Shekari and Rehnavard. This was the basis for appeals to their cases made in December 2022.
In an audio clip circulating online, Karami’s father said his son was innocent. However, these claims were rejected by the judiciary. Parents continue to make heartfelt appeals to authorities to spare their children from the death penalty, claiming them to be innocent. Additionally, they demand their children be given the basic right to choose their own lawyers rather than rely on state-appointed attorneys.
As reported by the Guardian, the director of Oslo-based Iran Human Rights group, Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, has warned that the harsh sentencing and executions indicate “a significant escalation of the level of violence against protesters”. Describing the death sentences as “unfair” and “based on coerced confessions”, he said there was “a serious risk mass execution of protesters” with thousands in custody. International powers continue to pressure the Iranian regime against its escalating treatment of protesters to suppress dissent.
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