Iran on Thursday hanged a man accused of killing a security guard and blocking a street in Tehran – the first execution since the country’s ongoing nationwide protests.
Iran was rocked by riots on September 16 following the death of 22-year-old Iranian Kurd Mahsa Amini in the custody of the Moral Police. Demonstrations have been one of the biggest problems of the Islamic Republic since its establishment in 1979.
At least 475 people have been killed in the protests so far, and more than 18,000 have been arrested by security forces, according to human rights activists in Iran.
Iran’s judiciary-run Mizan news agency identified the slain protester as Mohsin Shekari on Thursday. It said he was sentenced by Tehran’s Revolutionary Court, which typically holds closed-door trials where defendants cannot choose their lawyers or even see the evidence against them.
According to the agency, Shekari was accused of blocking a street and attacking a member of the security forces with a machete, who required stitches for his wounds.
The Mizan report also admitted that Shekari was offered money by an acquaintance to attack the security forces.
Mizan said Shekari was arrested on September 25 and then sentenced on November 20 on charges of “moharebeh” – a Persian word for “waging war against God”. This charge carries the death penalty.
Mizan said Shekari’s lawyer’s appeal against the sentence had failed.
State media released a video of Shekari’s confession, which appeared with a bruise on his right cheek.
Rights groups said Shekari was tortured and forced to confess. Germany and Great Britain condemned his execution.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said: “The Iranian regime’s hatred of humanity knows no bounds. “But the threat of execution will not stifle people’s will to freedom.”
British Foreign Secretary James Cleverley said he was “outraged” by the news of the execution.
“The world cannot turn a blind eye to the Iranian regime’s heinous violence against its own people,” Cleverly tweeted.
Amnesty International said Iran’s government is seeking the death penalty for at least 21 people “in sham trials designed to intimidate those involved in the popular uprising that rocked Iran.”
“The Iranian government should immediately overturn all death sentences, refrain from using the death penalty, and drop all charges against those arrested for peaceful participation in protests,” it said.
Iran has blamed foreign countries, including the United States, for the unrest, but has offered no evidence of outside interference.
So far, the judiciary has announced that 10 more people have been sentenced to death in connection with the protests, on charges of “waging war against God” or “corruption on earth.” The accused have not been identified.
Judiciary spokesman Masoud Setayeshi said on Tuesday that five people accused of killing Basij militia member Rouhollah Ajamian had been sentenced to death.
Iran’s semi-official ISNA news agency reported on Thursday that five members of the Islamic State militant group have been charged with “war against God” for their involvement in the massacre of Shiite pilgrims in October.
Iran ranks first in the world in terms of executions. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk said this year by September, the number had exceeded 400 for the first time in five years.