after the execution of a second protester, the fear of a “murderous spiral”
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Iran on Monday (December 12th) carried out the second execution of a demonstrator since the start of the protest movement that has been going on since September. For our Observer, this could be the start of a “murderous madness” which could soon shift into “higher gear”. At least 11 protesters are currently on death row, while 28 others, including minors, face charges that could carry the death penalty.
Majid Reza Rahnavard, 23, was hanged “in public” early Monday in the city of Mashhad. He had been found guilty of “waging war against God” after being accused of fatally stabbing two members of the Basij paramilitary force last month.
In a video claimed to have been filmed at Rahnavard’s grave on Monday, people can be heard chanting “Country Martyr Majid Reza Rahnavard”.
According to the opposition activist collective 1500 tasvir, Rahnavard’s family was not aware that he was going to be executed. She received a phone call from an official at 7 am this morning, telling her: “We killed your son and buried his body in Behesht-e Reza cemetery”.
Majid Reza Rahnavard’s death comes less than a week after that of 23-year-old Mohsen Shekari, the first known protester to be executed, by hanging, on December 8. He had been convicted of “enmity towards God” after being accused of attacking a Basij member with a knife in Tehran and blocking a street during a protest.
A heartbreaking video showing the moment Mohsen Sherkari’s mother learns of his death has circulated on social media. According to 1,500 tasvir, the regime had asked him to remain silent in order to secure his release.
“There is no resemblance to justice”
The expeditious nature of the legal proceedings fuels fears that other protesters will be executed, and soon. For Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the “Center for Human Rights in Iran”, an NGO based in New York, believes that the protesters are sentenced to death after “show trials” without any due process.
Second Iranian protester was hanged today morning, just 23 days after his arrest.
Majidreza Rahnavard appeared with a broken arm in an Iranian state TV report. pic.twitter.com/hMGkidpA6V
— Parham Ghobadi (@BBCParham) December 12, 2022
Majidreza Rahnavard appeared with a broken arm on Iranian state television after his arrest.
It’s really hard to call it a trial. There is no resemblance to justice. Political defendants thrown into this unjust and brutal justice system are denied the right to a public trial or a lawyer of their choice and are kept in total isolation and tortured, before being tried behind closed doors.
Typically, the only evidence used by these courts is false “confessions” obtained under duress and during prolonged and brutal interrogations. The defendants do not have a lawyer and generally appear bruised or tortured. The judges in these cases are there to approve the requests of the prosecutor.
Sentences are handed down very quickly, although the procedure goes through a court of first instance, a court of appeal and the supreme court. It’s so quick that none of these procedures seem to have any substance. In the most recent execution, that of Majid Reza Rahnavard, the whole process took place in just twenty-one days. It’s terrifying.
In a video posted on social media, the mother of Kurdish rapper Saman Seyedi (also known as Yasin), 24, currently on death row, said authorities had “dismissed the lawyer of [son] son”.
“The Islamic Republic escalates its killing spree”.
According to the NGO Iran Human Rights, at least 458 civilians have been killed and some 18,000 people arrested since the protests began on September 16, the day Mahsa Amini died following her arrest by the vice squad. These demonstrations were quickly led by the ousting of Iranian religious leaders and a change of regime.
For Hadi Ghaemi, the Islamic Republic could resort to even more extreme measures to crush the protest movement:
Not a single Iranian official has been held responsible for the murder of Mahsa Jina Amini, nor for the more than 400 protesters who have been killed. Instead, the Islamic Republic is stepping up its killing spree, which should soon kick into high gear.
The regime and its justice system certainly have the capacity to execute increasing numbers of people. These are the same people who have executed political prisoners in large numbers for decades. They are the same who killed 5,000 political prisoners in the space of a few weeks in 1987. The Iranian president was one of the men behind these crimes against humanity [à l’époque, Ebrahim Raisi, procureur adjoint de Téhéran, était l’un des quatre membres nommés au comité dit “de la mort” de la capitale, NDLR]. They want to execute more people, it’s their way of asserting their power, of showing that they are in control.
“The international community must increase economic and diplomatic pressure”
However, we are no longer in the 1980s. The current situation is much more fragile. There is a lot of anger in the country, even within its own ranks of power, and around the world. It has become a very fluid and dangerous situation that can change at any time.
The international community must do more than make statements. If she does not put an end to this situation, she is giving the green light to these crimes. We also encourage citizens to take to the streets to push their governments to act in an attempt to save lives in Iran.
According to Amnesty International, Iran executes more people per year than any nation other than China.