Iran’s regime carried out the execution of three protesters on Friday morning, despite pleas from international officials and activists, further fueling anger and protests.
Majid Kazemi, Saeed Yaghoubi and Saleh Mirhashemi were arrested during last year’s nationwide protests and were framed for murder, allegedly involved in the deaths of two members of the Revolutionary Guards (Iran’s paramilitary trained to stifle dissent) and a police officer, in a case known as the ‘Esfahan (Isfahan) House’, as reported by Persian media.
The announcement of their execution was made by the judiciary through a statement on Twitter, raising the total number of protesters hanged since the nationwide protests began in September 2022 to seven, following the death of 22-year-old Jîna Mahsa Amini while in custody.
Human rights campaigners have decried the trial as a travesty of justice, claiming that the prisoners were coerced into making confessions through torture, with no substantial evidence against them. A poignant image of Mirhashemi’s father holding a banner declaring his son’s innocence went viral on Thursday, stating that his son was unarmed.
In a letter written from prison on Wednesday, the three prisoners pleaded with the people to prevent their execution, referring to themselves as “children of Iran” and requesting assistance and support.
Videos are now emerging on social media showing people expressing anger and chanting slogans in response to the news of the executions. Numerous social media users are calling for protest rallies against the executions.
Several foreign officials and human rights activists had appealed to the Islamic Republic in the past few days to halt the executions. Vedant Patel, the Principal Deputy Spokesman of the US State Department, echoed these calls during a news briefing on Thursday, urging the regime not to carry out the executions. He emphasised that the execution of the three men, after unfair trials, would be a violation of human rights and dignity, not only in Iran but worldwide. He further stated that the Iranian regime had failed to learn from the protests that erupted following the death of Amini.
Amnesty International strongly condemned the trial and sentencing, describing it as “shocking.” Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, denounced the Iranian authorities’ disregard for the right to life and a fair trial. She referred to an audio recording from prison by Majid Kazemi, in which he claimed to have been forced to make false self-incriminating statements under duress, including beatings, electric shocks, mock executions, rape threats, and harassment towards his family.
Efforts were made by people who gathered outside Esfahan Central Prison on Sunday and Wednesday night, hoping to prevent the executions from taking place.
Iran’s use of the death penalty as a means of intimidation during widespread demonstrations has been drawing significant criticism, with expatriate communities planning demonstrations worldwide to denounce the executions on 20 May.
The recent nationwide protests in Iran have posed a significant internal challenge to the Islamic Republic, which was established in 1979. Security forces have reportedly killed around 500 civilians, with at least 20,000 arrests made. Although many have been released, approximately 1,500 individuals are still facing criminal charges, and at least 80 detainees are at risk of the death penalty.