Iran: Executions of protesters must prompt an international response

SEAN GALLUP / GETTY IMAGES EUROPE / Getty Images via AFP

Paris, 13 December 2022. Governments worldwide and in particular European Union (EU) member states must recall their ambassadors or their highest ranking diplomats from Iran. Human rights groups argue their stay has become untenable after the brutal repression and the executions of two protesters in less than a week, without signs of relenting from the regime in Tehran.

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the League for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran (LDDHI) urge governments to convey their extreme displeasure with the Iranian authorities’ utter disregard for human rights, including the right to life, and to call back their ambassadors. They should take any other proportionate measures on the international stage to hold the perpetrators of human rights abuses accountable, including by facilitating the work of the international fact-finding mission established by the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council in November 2022. The human rights organisations also call on all UN member states to denounce the execution of protesters and to urge the Iranian authorities to impose an immediate moratorium on the use of the death penalty.

The call is made to draw attention in particular to the recent executions of protesters, and scores of others facing charges punishable by death. On 8 December 2022 a young man, Mohsen Shekari, was executed after having been found guilty of blocking a street and injuring a member of the Basij militia during a recent protest in Tehran. On 12 December 2022, another young man, Majidreza Rahnavard, was hanged in public after being accused of fatally stabbing two other Basij members during a protest in Mashhad.

A shocking string of politically motivated convictions followed by executions

Mr. Shekari was arrested on 25 September 2022, and sentenced to death by the Islamic Revolution Court in Tehran on 20 November 2022. The entire process to his execution took only 56 days. Mr. Rahnavard was arrested on 19 November, following his participation in a protest on 17 November 2022, and was tried on 29 November. The entire process leading to his execution took just over three weeks. Both were charged with moharebeh. [1] The unusually short interval between both men’s arrests and executions also casts serious doubts on the authorities’ respect for due process and of their right to a fair trial. On 5 December, head of the Judiciary lauded the “very short” processes and promised the execution of protesters convicted for moharebeh and “corruption on earth” very soon.

Mr. Shekari’s and Mr. Rahnavard’s executions, the first two of individuals involved in the recent protests, highlight the Iranian authorities’ blatant disregard for Iran’s international human rights legal obligations. The use of the death penalty in Mr. Shekari’s and Mr. Rahnavard’s cases and the death sentences against other protesters do not meet the “most serious crimes” threshold under international law and are thus in contravention of the country’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Repression raging since mid-September has killed hundreds and brought mass incarceration upon thousands

Protests triggered by the death in custody of Mahsa Amini on 16 September 2022 have been met with violent repression by the authorities. According to data collected by LDDHI, as of 9 December 2022, Iranian authorities have killed at least 535 people, including 61 women and 75 children, and detained thousands of civilians in their relentless crackdown on the protests and other acts of civil disobedience. At least 65 individuals (including 11 women and five children) have been charged with moharebeh, “corruption on earth,” insurrection, or murder (the latter three are punishable by death) in connection with their involvement in the protests. The real number is likely higher. Charges of moharebeh, “corruption on earth,” insurrection or murder have frequently been used against political dissidents and members of ethnic communities and religious minorities, who have been frequently executed.

Find here a non-comprehensive list of protesters facing moharebeh, ‘corruption on earth’, insurrection or murder charges as of 13 December 2022.

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