Outrage as Iran hands down more death sentences over civil unrest

Outrage as Iran hands down more death sentences over civil unrest
Iran has handed down three more death sentences over the civil unrest triggered by Mahsa Amini's death.
4 min read
Four executions have been carried out following the unrest, while six of those convicted have been granted retrials [Getty]

Iran has handed down three more death sentences for offences related to the civil unrest triggered by Mahsa Amini's death, the judiciary said Monday, fuelling international protests against the regime.

The latest sentences -- for three men convicted of killing three members of the security forces -- bring to 17 the official total of detainees condemned to death in connection with nearly four months of protests.

Four executions have been carried out, while six of those convicted have been granted retrials.

Dozens of people demonstrated outside Iran's Rajai Shahr jail in the city of Karaj on Sunday night amid reports of further executions, the BBC reported.

Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights (IHR) said Monday at least 109 protesters now in detention have been sentenced to death or face charges that can carry capital punishment.

The Islamic republic has been rocked by a wave of protests since the September 16 death in custody of Kurdish Iranian Amini, 22, following her arrest for allegedly violating Iran's strict dress code for women.

In the latest ruling, Saleh Mirhashemi, Majid Kazemi and Saeed Yaghoubi were sentenced to death for "moharebeh" -- or waging "war against God" -- under Iran's Islamic sharia law, the judiciary's Mizan Online website reported. They can still appeal the verdict.

Two others were handed prison terms for the incident that led to the deaths of the three members of the security forces in the central province of Isfahan on November 16, Mizan said.

In an updated death toll, IHR said Monday that 481 protesters had been killed, including 64 minors, since the unrest began.

Iranian authorities say hundreds, including members of the security forces, have been killed.

- 'Brutal repression' -

Iran has blamed the unrest on hostile foreign forces, and supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Monday that authorities had been dealing "seriously and justly" with those implicated in the "riots".

"There is no doubt that there is an economic and livelihood problem, but can this problem be solved by burning trash cans and rioting in the streets?" he said, according to his official website.

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"Undoubtedly, these actions are treason, and the responsible institutions deal with treason seriously and justly."

The crackdown and executions have sparked global outrage and new Western sanctions against Tehran.

Rights groups have also accused Iran of extracting forced confessions and denying the thousands arrested due legal process.

Canada on Monday announced a new round of sanctions over the regime's "brutal repression of brave Iranian voices", said Foreign Minister Melanie Joly.

The same day, the White House condemned the latest executions, saying the United States stood with other countries demanding an "immediate cessation" of the death sentences.

"We condemn the executions of Mohammad Mehdi Karami & Mohammad Hosseini and the additional executions announced today," National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan tweeted, referring to two people executed Saturday.

The European Union and several European countries including Austria, Belgium, Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway have summoned Iranian diplomats in protest at the latest executions.

According to London-based rights group Amnesty International, Iran is second only to China in its use of the death penalty, with at least 314 people executed in 2021.

- Protest outside prison -

More rallies against the Iranian regime have been held in London and Paris in recent days, while protests continued inside Iran.

The authorities have arrested several prominent public figures, including athletes and artists, who backed the protests.

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Faezeh Hashemi, the daughter of late president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, has been sentenced to five years in prison, her lawyer told AFP on Monday.

Women's rights activist Hashemi, a former lawmaker, was arrested on September 27 accused of "propaganda" and actions against public order and national security, said lawyer Neda Shams.

Protesters gathered late Sunday outside a prison in the northern city of Karaj after reports that two inmates had been transferred to solitary confinement ahead of their execution, according to several rights groups based abroad.

Protest monitor 1500tasvir said a crowd, including the mother of death-row inmate Mohammad Ghobadlou, demonstrated in front of Gohardasht prison "to save the lives" of him and another prisoner, Mohammad Boroghani.

Both had been convicted of attacks on security forces and their appeals have been rejected.

The UN human rights office said Monday it was "seriously concerned at news of imminent execution" of the two men.

The judiciary's Mizan website on Monday accused "hostile media" of reporting "rumours" of their planned execution.

"The enforcement of these convicts' sentences is not currently on the agenda due to incomplete legal proceedings," it said.