Iran triggers outrage with first execution over protests

Iran protests, one person holds a sign saying "women, life, freedom"
Support us and go ad-free

Iran carried out its first known execution on 8 December over the protests that have shaken the regime since September. It sparked an international outcry amid warnings from rights groups that more hangings are imminent. Mohsen Shekari, 23, had been convicted and sentenced to death for blocking a street and wounding a paramilitary during the early phase of the protests, after a legal process denounced as a show trial by rights groups.

At least a dozen other people are currently at risk of execution after being sentenced to hang in connection with the protests, human rights groups warned. Demonstrations have swept Iran for nearly three months since Iranian Kurdish woman Jîna Mahsa Amini, 22, died in custody after her arrest by the morality police in Tehran for an alleged breach of the country’s strict hijab dress code for women.


Amnesty International said it was “horrified” by the execution, and condemned Shekari’s court proceedings as a “grossly unfair sham trial.” They added:

His execution exposes the inhumanity of Iran’s so-called justice system.

Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, director of Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights (IHR), urged a strong international reaction otherwise “we will face mass execution of protesters”. He said:

Mohsen Shekari was executed after a hasty and unfair trial without a lawyer.

Iran’s Fars news agency carried a video report of Shekari talking about the attack while in detention, which IHR described as a “forced confession” with his face “visibly injured”.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

‘Boundless contempt’

Other governments have echoed the anger of the rights groups. Washington called Shekari’s execution “a grim escalation” and vowed to hold the Iranian regime to account for violence “against its own people.” In Rome, prime minister Giorgia Meloni expressed indignation at “this unacceptable repression” which, she said, will not quash the protesters’ demands. German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock had a similar message:

The threat of execution will not suffocate the will for freedom. The Iranian regime’s contempt for human life is boundless.

The office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said of Shekari’s death:

we deplore (the) hanging.

IHR this week said Iran had already executed more than 500 people in 2022, a sharp jump on last year’s figure.

Increase in executions

The 1500tasvir protest monitor said on social media that the execution of Shekari had happened with such haste that his family had still been waiting to hear the outcome of the appeal. It posted harrowing footage of what it said was the moment his family found out the news outside their home in Tehran, with a woman doubled up in pain and grief, repeatedly screaming the word “Mohsen!”

The largely peaceful protest movement has been marked by actions including removing and burning headscarves in the streets, chanting anti-government slogans and confronting the security forces. In a relatively new tactic, protest supporters staged three days of nationwide strikes up to Wednesday 7 December which closed down shops in major cities, according to rights groups. The security forces have responded with a crackdown that has killed at least 458 people, including 63 children, according to an updated death toll issued by IHR on Wednesday.

A court on Tuesday 6 December sentenced five more people to death by hanging for killing a Basij member, bringing to 11 the number sentenced to death in connection with the protests. Freedom of expression group Article 19 said urgent action was needed:

as the lives of others on death row in relation to the uprising are in imminent danger.

Featured image by Unsplash/Craig Melville

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse

Support us and go ad-free

We know everyone is suffering under the Tories - but the Canary is a vital weapon in our fight back, and we need your support

The Canary Workers’ Co-op knows life is hard. The Tories are waging a class war against us we’re all having to fight. But like trade unions and community organising, truly independent working-class media is a vital weapon in our armoury.

The Canary doesn’t have the budget of the corporate media. In fact, our income is over 1,000 times less than the Guardian’s. What we do have is a radical agenda that disrupts power and amplifies marginalised communities. But we can only do this with our readers’ support.

So please, help us continue to spread messages of resistance and hope. Even the smallest donation would mean the world to us.

Support us
  • Show Comments
    1. “Other governments have echoed the anger of the rights groups. Washington called Shekari’s execution “a grim escalation”…”

      USA has executed 17 people this year – 6 more than in 2021. Also a “grim escalation” ?

      As of April 1, 2022, there were 2,414 death row inmates in the United States, probably slightly fewer now – see above.

      With regards to the death of Mahsa Amini, you might find this of interest :

      1. “USA has executed 17 people this year” is 17 too many. However, the USA is well down the list for state murders. China is easily leading the world in this horrific crime against human rights.

        “China is undoubtedly the country with the most death sentences and executions, but the state media and courts only report or publish a very small number of death penalty cases. They do not officially publish the number of death sentences, of executions, or death sentences by province, crime, age, gender, income, etc…

        … estimates by groups such as Amnesty International of the number of executions in China are far lower than the actual number. Based on our experience as lawyers in China and interviews with lawyers, judges and prosecutors, we roughly estimate that in the more than 20 years up to 2007, at least 12,000 people were executed every year. At least 8,000 people have been executed every year since 2007. According to the “World Death Penalty Report 2020” published by Amnesty International in 2021, 483 people were executed worldwide in 2020, excluding China, North Korea, Syria and Vietnam, which keep the death penalty classified as a defense secret. Given China’s demographic base, it can be said that the number of executions in China is probably around 90% of the global total.”

        1. Sure, but in this case China isn’t attempting to grab some kind of moral highground in order to whitewash their latest attempt at regime change. The USA is – hence my comment.

          The events in Iran aren’t anything to do with human rights or democracy. As with Ukraine, it’s about installing a puppet regime .

          Let’s face it, if the USA cared about human rights, they’d have staged a coup in Israel long ago.

    2. I agree with Madge. We’re being groomed for the next round of ill-advised American military adventurism. American sources aren’t even trying to hide it.

      On the subject of propaganda, Consortium News today published an interesting article : Britain’s Secret Propaganda on Vietnam War

      “The British Foreign Office provided key propaganda support to the U.S. during its war in Vietnam, chiefly through its Cold War propaganda arm, the Information Research Department (IRD).

      Throughout the 1960s, this support involved helping the U.S.-backed South Vietnamese regime to set up its own propaganda unit and whitewashing Washington’s image over civilian bloodshed.

      It also entailed distributing material to hundreds of British political and media figures in order to sanitise U.S. atrocities and make the British public less critical of the war.

      Remarkably, Britain even offered to provide the U.S. with “special” support during the infamous Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964, which Washington used to cynically and dramatically escalate its war effort in Vietnam.”

      Nothing much changes, does it ?

    Leave a Reply

    Join the conversation

    Please read our comment moderation policy here.