Iran executes two more men as regime tries to quell nationwide protests

Iran executes two more men as regime tries to quell nationwide protests

Iran said it executed two men on Saturday convicted of allegedly killing a paramilitary volunteer during a demonstration, the latest executions aimed at stemming the nationwide protests now challenging the country’s theocracy.

Iran’s judiciary identified those executed as Mohammad Mehdi Karami and Mohammad Hosseini, making it four men known to have been executed since demonstrations began in September over the death of Mahsa Amini. All have faced internationally criticized, fast-track trials behind closed doors.

Judiciary news agency Mizan said the men were convicted of killing Ruhollah Ajamian, a member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Basij volunteer force, in the town of Karaj outside Tehran on November 3. The Basij has deployed in major cities, attacking and arresting protesters, who in many cases have fought back.

Memorial ceremony for executed Iranians
Photos show the two executed protesters in Iran at a demonstration on Saturday 7 January. Iran’s judiciary announced on Saturday that the two men, Mohammed-Mehdi K. and Sejed-Mohammed H., were hanged early in the morning.

Christophe Gateau/image alliance via Getty Images

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Twitter that Karami and Hosseini were “more than just two names”.

“(They were) hanged by the regime in Iran because they did not want to submit to its brutal and inhumane actions. Two more terrible fates that encourage us to increase pressure on Tehran through the EU,” she wrote.

Heavily edited footage broadcast on state television showed Karami speaking before a revolutionary court about the attack, which also showed a re-enactment of the attack, according to prosecutors’ claims. Iran’s revolutionary courts handed down the other two death sentences that have already been carried out.

The tribunal does not allow those accused to choose their own lawyers or even to see the evidence against them. Amnesty International has said the trials “did not resemble a meaningful trial”.

State TV also aired footage of Karami and Hosseini talking about the attack, although the broadcaster has for years aired what activists describe as coerced confessions.

The men were convicted of the murder, as well as “corruption on earth,” a Koranic term and charge that has been levied against others in the decades since the 1979 Islamic revolution and carries the death penalty.

Activists say at least 16 people have been sentenced to death in camera on charges related to the protests. Death sentences in Iran are usually carried out by hanging.

At least 517 protesters have been killed and more than 19,200 people have been arrested, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group that has been closely monitoring the unrest. Iranian authorities have not provided an official count of those killed or detained.

The protests began in mid-September, when 22-year-old Amini died after being arrested by Iran’s morality police for allegedly violating the Islamic republic’s strict dress code. Women have played a leading role in the protests, with many publicly removing the mandatory Islamic headscarf, known as the hijab.

The protests mark one of the biggest challenges to Iran’s theocracy since the 1979 revolution. Security forces have used live ammunition, birdshot, tear gas and batons to disperse protesters, according to rights groups.

Also on Saturday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appointed a new hardline police chief, the official IRNA news agency reported. General Ahmad Reza Radan replaced outgoing General Hossein Ashtari after Ashtari’s eight-year term of service ended.

Radan, who served as acting police chief from 2008-2014, is known for his harsh handling of protesters during the post-election unrest in 2009. He also introduced measures against women wearing loose Islamic veils and young men with long hair.

The US and Europe imposed sanctions on Radan for human rights violations in 2009 and 2010.

He has been in charge of a police research center since 2014.

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