Iran Hangs the First of Its Protesters

Mohsen Shekari, 23, was accused of attacking a security official with a knife
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 8, 2022 7:45 AM CST
Iran Carries Out First Hanging of Protester
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks during a meeting with a group of Basij paramilitary force in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022.   (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

Iran has carried out the first execution of an anti-government protester convicted over recent unrest triggered by the death of Mahsa Amini. Mohsen Shekari, 23, who in a video shared by state media admitted to attacking a member of a volunteer paramilitary force with a knife or machete and blocking a main road in Tehran on Sept. 25, was hanged Thursday morning, per the BBC. Human rights groups say he was forced to confess under torture, per Reuters. Shekari was found guilty of fighting and using a weapon "with the intention of killing, causing terror and disturbing the order and security of society" as well as "enmity against God" by a Revolutionary Court on Nov. 1, with the verdict upheld by the supreme court on Nov. 20, state media reported.

The Iranian judiciary says Revolutionary Courts have sentenced another 10 people to death on similar charges. Five people are due to be executed for the killing of a Basij militia member, though they can still appeal, per Reuters. Another person is due to be executed for setting fire to a government building, the outlet reported last month. Amnesty International says authorities are seeking the death penalty for at least 28 protesters, per Al Jazeera. The courts are operating "under the influence of security and intelligence forces to impose harsh sentences following grossly unfair trials," according to the NGO, which notes the death sentences are meant to "further repress the popular uprising" and "instil fear among the public," per the BBC.

Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, director of Norway-based Iran Human Rights, says Shekari's execution "must be met with the strongest possible terms and international reactions. Otherwise, we will be facing daily executions of protesters who are protesting for their fundamental human rights," per CNN. Late last month, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights called for an independent investigation into the "full-fledged human rights crisis" in Iran. Tehran, however, said it would not cooperate in the "political" investigation, per Al Jazeera. It claims the protesters are backed by foreign powers, including the US. At least 475 protesters have been killed amid the unrest, according to the Human Rights Activists' News Agency. (More Iran stories.)

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