In Iran, the pace of executions continues, relentlessly. Iranian justice announced the hanging on Saturday of two men convicted of killing a paramilitary during the demonstrations triggered by the death in custody of the young Mahsa Amini, new executions which aroused the “dismay” of the European Union. The UN also denounced “shocking” hangings which bring to four the number of executions since the start of the protest movement in Iran in mid-September. “Mohammad Mehdi Karami and Seyed Mohammad Hosseini, the main perpetrators of the crime that led to the martyrdom of Rouhollah Ajamian, were hanged this morning” on Saturday, the judicial authority agency Mizan Online said. The two men were accused of having killed this member of the Bassidji militia, linked to the Revolutionary Guards, the ideological army of Iran, on November 3 in Karaj, west of Tehran.
A court of first instance had sentenced the two men to death on December 4 and the Supreme Court had confirmed their sentences on January 3, a justice described as “expedited” by human rights NGOs. The European Union is “appalled” by these executions, Nabila Massrali, a spokeswoman for the head of EU diplomacy Josep Borrell, said in a statement. The EU “once again calls on the Iranian authorities to immediately put an end to the highly reprehensible practice of issuing and carrying out death sentences against protesters”, she said.
14 people sentenced to death
Since the start of the protest movement, 14 people have been sentenced to death in connection with the protests, according to an AFP count based on official information. Among them, four have been executed, two have had their sentences confirmed by the Supreme Court, six are awaiting new trials and two others can appeal. Activists say dozens more face the death penalty. Iran has been rocked by protests since the death of Mahsa Amini on September 16 following her arrest for violating the country’s strict dress code for women.
Iranian officials generally denounce “riots”, fueled by foreign countries and opposition groups, and say that hundreds of people have been killed in the unrest, including members of the security forces. About 14,000 people were also arrested, according to the UN. These latest executions come despite a campaign by NGOs calling on Tehran to spare Mohammad Mehdi Karami and Seyed Mohammad Hosseini, Amnesty International having notably denounced an “unfair” trial. In mid-December, Mohammad Mehdi’s father, Mashallah Karami, posted a video on social media in which he implored the authorities to overturn his son’s conviction.
The family’s lawyer, Me Mohmmed Aghasi, lamented on Twitter on Saturday that Karami had not been able to see his family one last time before he died. According to the Oslo-based organization Iran Human Rights (IHR), Karami was 22 years old and according to the NGO Hengaw, also based in Norway, Hosseini was 39 years old. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on Saturday denounced the trials “based on extracted confessions”. “Shocking that Iran continues to execute protesters despite international outcry,” he tweeted. IHR director Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam said the two convicted were “subjected to torture, and sentenced after a show trial”, calling for “tougher sanctions against Iranian individuals and entities “.
Tehran is already subject to a series of international sanctions in response to the crackdown on protests. Director of the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), Hadi Ghaemi, accused Iran of using “executions and lethal force against protests to sow terror within the population and dash the people’s hopes and calls for change”. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei announced on Saturday that he had appointed a new national police chief, Ahmad-Reza Radan, to replace General Hossein Ashtari.
In 2010, the US Treasury blacklisted Ahmad-Reza Radan for human rights violations after the crackdown on protests sparked by the controversial re-election of ultra-conservative President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009.