UN slams Iran for weaponising fear as it hands out three more executions

A protest in Iran
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Iran will execute four more people involved in civil unrest following the murder of Mahsa Amini by the nation’s police. The latest sentences bring to 18 the official total of detainees condemned to death in connection with protests. But the UN says Iran is ‘weaponising’ the executions to spread fear through its population.

More executions

Mizan Online, the website of Iran’s judiciary, reported that courts have sentenced Saleh Mirhashemi, Majid Kazemi and Saeed Yaghoubi to death. Police charged them for involvement in the deaths of three of Iran’s Basij security forces members on 16 November. They were condemned with moharebeh, or waging ‘war against God’. The website also said that courts gave two further people jail terms in connection with the same incident.

More recently, Mizan Online also reported that Javad Rouhi was sentenced to death on charges of “corruption on Earth”. Rouhi was found guilty of “leading a group of rioters”, “inciting people to create insecurity”, as well as of “apostasy by desecration of the Koran by burning it”, Mizan Online reported.

He was also found guilty of “setting fire to and destroying property in a way that causes severe disruption to the country’s public order and security”, it added.

All of the sentenced prisoners can still appeal their respective verdicts.

Norway’s Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) group said on 9 January that the protests have led to the deaths of 481 protesters, including 64 minors, since the unrest began.

“State-sanctioned killing”

The UN has outright condemned the Iranian state’s executions. UN rights chief Volker Turk’s office said:

Read on...

Criminal proceedings and the death penalty are being weaponised by the Iranian government to punish individuals participating in protests and to strike fear into the population so as to stamp out dissent, in violation of international human rights law.

The weaponisation of criminal procedures to punish people for exercising their basic rights – such as those participating in or organising demonstrations – amounts to state-sanctioned killing.

Meanwhile, Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei described the protests as “treason”, adding:

the responsible institutions deal with treason seriously and justly.

But Turk disagreed. He said:

The government of Iran would better serve its interests and those of its people by listening to their grievances, and by undertaking the legal and policy reforms necessary to ensure respect for diversity of opinion, the rights to freedom of expression and assembly, and the full respect and protection of the rights of women in all areas of life.

Forced confessions

Protesters gathered outside a prison in the northern city of Karaj on 8 January. They gathered after reports that two inmates had been transferred to solitary confinement ahead of their execution, according to several international rights groups.

Protest monitor 1500tasvir said a crowd, including the mother of death-row inmate Mohammad Ghobadlou, demonstrated in front of Gohardasht prison. They were trying to “to save the lives” of him and another prisoner, Mohammad Boroghani. Courts convicted both of attacks on security forces and then rejected their appeals.

The UN human rights office said on 9 January it was “seriously concerned at news of imminent execution” of the two men. Other rights groups have also accused Iran of extracting forced confessions and denying due legal process to the thousands of people arrested.

According to London-based rights group Amnesty International, Iran is second only to China in its use of executions. It killed at least 314 people in 2021.

Featured image via BBC News/YouTube

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse

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  • Show Comments
    1. Meanwhile….

      Meta allows targeted hate speech, violence, but only against US rivals

      US tech giant Meta announced on Monday that it now permits sharing posts calling for the death of Iran’s leader Sayyed Ali Khamenei.

      The decision overturns an earlier policy to ban such posts, with Meta claiming that the phrase “Death to Khamenei” does not entail a literal threat against his life.

      Users can now liberally use the phrase in English or Farsi, without violating the company’s policies and risking penalties.

      “It is a rhetorical, political slogan, not a credible threat,” the Facebook parent company said in a statement.

      The new policy contradicts Meta’s terms that prohibit users from promoting violence.

      Furthermore, the decision comes despite all US social media platforms insisting that they practice “responsible” censorship in combating posts that contain misinformation and provoke violence, threats targeting individuals or groups, or “hate speech”.

      However, this is not the case when it comes to entities and individuals that don’t align with the US foreign policy, i.e. anyone who opposes the US and its illegal hegemonic actions around the world.

      According to American “free speech” policies, calling for support to countries facing Western aggression, such as Palestine, Yemen, Syria, Iran, or Russia, is a violation, which entails bans and suspensions from American-owned social media platforms.

      Al Mayadeen, 11 Jan 2023


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