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Iran executes second protester after speedy trial as EU plans new sanctions


Iranian protesters take to the streets of the capital Tehran during a demonstration for Mahsa Amini on September 21, days after her death in police custody.

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Iran executed a second detained protester on Monday, its state media reported, after a speedy trial as unrest and anger against the government continue to simmer across the country.

Majidreza Rahnavard, 23, was put to death by public hanging less than a month after his arrest, with photos from Iran’s Mizan news agency showing his body hanging from a crane. Cranes have been commonly used for public hangings since the early days of the Islamic Republic after its establishment in 1979.

Rahnavard has been accused by the Iranian courts of having fatally stabbed two members of the Basij security forces, which is a paramilitary wing of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. The Basij, along with other elements of the country’s security apparatus, have been waging a bloody crackdown on Iranian protesters, who have been demonstrating in more than 50 cities since mid-September.

Activist group Iranian Human Rights, which monitors the protests, says at least 488 people have been killed since then, and another 18,200 detained.

Iran has long held what activists and other governments say are show trials to jail or execute critics of the state. Rahnavard has been charged with the crime of “moharebeh”, which in Farsi means “waging war against God” – a charge leveled against many opponents and critics of the state over the past 43 years, which carries the penalty of dead.

“Another 23-year-old protester, Majidreza Rahnavard, has just been executed in Mashhad, Iran,” tweeted Karim Sadjadpour, senior fellow and Iran expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, on Monday.

“No lawyer, no due process, tortured confessions, sham trial. He was hanged for ‘waging war on God’. This cruelty in the name of religion is what has secularized so many young Iranians.”

People gather to protest the death of Mahsa Amini in the streets on September 19, 2022 in Tehran, Iran. Anti-government uprisings are expected to remain a sticking point and increase in frequency in Iran’s political landscape as dissatisfaction with other factors such as the country’s economic conditions surfaces, analysts say.

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Rahnavard’s hanging comes just four days after Iran executed Mohsen Shekari, the first inmate to be put to death for his participation in the protests. He was accused of blocking a street and assaulting a member of the security forces with a knife in Tehran.

Shekari’s family were reportedly not told in advance that he would be executed and were only informed after the hanging. for not allowing the defendants to choose their own lawyers or see the evidence used against them.

Protests that rocked Iran and proved to be the biggest challenge to the government in decades were sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, an Iranian Kurdish woman who died in police custody after being arrested for allegedly violating Iran’s strict rules. headscarf laws.

The protests, which have included strikes, walkouts, marches and other instances of civil unrest, have blossomed into a broader movement calling for the removal of the entire Islamic Republic regime.

Western leaders have expressed shock and outrage at the executions carried out in Iran so far.

“These executions are a blatant attempt to intimidate people, not for having committed crimes but simply for expressing their opinions in the streets, simply for wanting to live in freedom”, declared from Brussels the German Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock.

A protester holds a portrait of Mahsa Amini during a demonstration in support of Amini, an Iranian girl who died after being arrested in Tehran by the vice police of the Islamic Republic, at Istiklal Avenue in Istanbul on September 20, 2022.

Ozan Kose | AFP | Getty Images

She and other EU leaders are set to impose new sanctions on Iran for its crackdown on protesters as well as its support for Russia in the form of supplying Moscow with deadly drones for use in his war in Ukraine.

“With this sanctions package, we have particularly targeted those who are responsible for these executions, who are responsible for this violence against innocent people,” Baerbock said.

“It’s especially the Revolutionary Guards, but it’s also the ones trying to intimidate or further punish people with forcibly made videos.”

Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief, said the bloc was close to “approving a very, very tough set of sanctions” against the Iranian government.

The EU “will take all possible measures to support young women, support peaceful protesters and certainly the rejection of the death penalty,” Borrell said. He added that he had spoken with Iran’s foreign minister about the latest execution and Tehran’s response to the protests, and described it as “not an easy conversation”.

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