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Iran executes first protester since start of unrest in September

Dec. 8, 2022 Updated Thu., Dec. 8, 2022 at 9:41 p.m.

A picture obtained by AFP outside Iran, shows people gathering next to a burning motorcycle in the capital Tehran on Oct. 8, 2022.    ( AFP/Getty Images North America/TNS)
A picture obtained by AFP outside Iran, shows people gathering next to a burning motorcycle in the capital Tehran on Oct. 8, 2022.   ( AFP/Getty Images North America/TNS)

TEHRAN, Iran – A demonstrator in Iran has been executed for the first time since mass anti-government protests began in September, state news agency IRNA reported on Thursday.

Accused of assaulting a security guard with a weapon and inciting terror, Mohsen Shekari was arrested in Tehran on Sept. 25. Iran’s Revolutionary Court in the capital convicted him of “waging war against God” according to Islamic law.

An appeal was dismissed by the Supreme Court. Shekari’s death sentence was pronounced on Nov. 20, according to the news agency Mizan.

Human rights activists called the trial a “sham.”

Prominent Iranian activist and blogger, Hossein Ronaghi, who was recently released from prison on bail, said on Twitter, “we will not turn a blind eye to the executions.”

“The execution of any protester will have serious consequences for you,” Ronaghi said, addressing the Iranian regime. “Taking the life of one person is the same as taking the lives of all of us.”

Although there was no information yet on the method of Shekari’s execution, the death penalty in Iran is usually carried out by hanging. The judiciary has taken a hard line against protesters, with several death sentences already being handed down to demonstrators in recent weeks. This is the first to be carried out.

In parliament, too, lawmakers often demand harsh sentences, up to and including the death penalty, for the thousands of imprisoned protesters.

Human rights activists have criticized the increase in death sentences carried out in Iran since the far-right President Ebrahim Raisi took office last summer.

At least 250 people were executed in the first six months of this year alone, mainly for drug-related offences, according to Amnesty International.

Dissident protests continue across Iran. Many shopkeepers have closed their stores in protest since the beginning of the week, especially in Iran’s Kurdish province.

Security forces were in force in large parts of the country to prevent gatherings and protests.

Human rights activists estimate that at least 470 protesters have been killed and more than 18,000 arrested during the protests that have rocked the country since mid-September.

The protests were triggered by the death of the Iranian Kurdish woman Jina Mahsa Amini on September 16. She died in police custody after being arrested for violating Islamic dress codes.

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