Iran public hanging: Second execution carried out over protests

Majidreza Rahnavard
Majidreza Rahnavard was executed only 23 days after his arrest (Image: IHRights)

Iran says it has publicly hanged a 23-year-old in what is the second execution linked to the recent anti-government protests.

Majidreza Rahnavard, 23, was hanged early on Monday in the city of Mashhad, the judiciary said.

A court convicted him of “enmity against God” after finding he had stabbed to death two members of the paramilitary Basij Resistance Force.

Rahnavard was hanged just 23 days after his arrest.

Human rights groups have warned that protesters are being sentenced to death after sham trials with no due process.

Rahnavard’s family was not aware that he was going to be executed, according to the opposition activist collective 1500tasvir.

It tweeted that the family were telephoned by an official at 07:00 local time and told: “We have killed your son and buried his body in Behesht-e Reza cemetery.”

The judiciary’s Mizan news agency said Rahnavard was hanged “in the presence of a group of Mashhadi citizens” and posted several pre-dawn photographs reportedly showing the execution.

In two of the photos, a man could be seen hanging from the cable of a crane.

Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, director of Norway-based Iran Human Rights, said on Twitter that Rahnavard’s sentencing was based on “coerced confessions, after a grossly unfair process and a show trial”.

“This crime must be met with serious consequences for the Islamic Republic,” he said, adding that there was a “serious risk of mass execution of protesters”.

The women-led protests against Iran’s clerical establishment were sparked by the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who was detained by morality police on 13 September for allegedly wearing her hijab, or headscarf, “improperly”.

They have spread to 161 cities in all 31 provinces and are seen as one of the most serious challenges to the Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution.

Iran’s leaders have portrayed the protests as “riots” instigated by the country’s foreign enemies. However, the overwhelming majority of protesters have been unarmed and peaceful.

A video broadcast by state TV after his arrest on 19 November showed Rahnavard blindfolded and with his left arm in a cast. In the footage, he said he did not deny attacking the Basij members, but did not remember the details, because he had not been in the right state of mind.

State TV also showed on Monday what it said was his subsequent “confession” before a Revolutionary Court.

Activists say Iranian state media routinely broadcast false confessions by detainees that have been coerced through torture and other ill-treatment.

The first execution of a protester took place last Thursday, triggering international condemnation. Mohsen Shekari, 23, was convicted of “enmity against God” after being found to have attacked a Basij member with a machete in Tehran.

Mizan had previously reported that he was accused of stabbing to death two members of the Basij on a street in Mashhad on 17 November. The Basij is a volunteer force often deployed by Iranian authorities to suppress dissent.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Monday that her European Union counterparts would agree on Monday a new package of sanctions targeting those responsible for the executions, including the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) and those filming “forced confessions”.

BBC Persian’s Kasra Naji says it is not clear whether the executions will help end the protests that have been sweeping the country or pour fuel on the fire.

Mashhad was the scene of an anti-government demonstration on Sunday night, while people were heard chanting “Martyr of the country Majidreza Rahnavard” in a video apparently filmed at Rahnavard’s grave on Monday.

So far, at least 488 protesters have been killed by security forces and 18,259 others have been detained, according to the Human Rights Activists’ News Agency (HRANA). It has also reported the deaths of 62 security personnel.

Iran is second only to China in the number of executions carried out annually.

Source: bbc.co.uk

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