An Iranian court issued the death sentence to an anti-hijab protester for the first time
By Peter Aitken
Fears of widespread executions to put an end to the unrest have been raised after an Iranian court handed down the first death sentence in connection with the months-long anti-hijab protests.
An unnamed defendant was found guilty of “enmity against God” by a Revolutionary Court in Tehran, and the protester was given the death penalty. Human rights organizations like the Iran Human Rights NGO (IHRNGO) expressed outrage and worry that this would only be the first of many executions.
Iran Human Rights cautions against the possibility of hurried executions without prior notice, citing the Islamic Republic’s history of using the death penalty to instill societal fear, according to an online statement from the organization based in Norway. “The organization urges the international community to take prompt action to stop such crimes.”
According to IHRNGO, citing the judiciary’s news site Mizan, the anti-hijab protester who was given the death penalty also faced charges of setting a government building on fire and “corruption on Earth.” Additionally, the group asserted that at least 20 protesters are facing charges related to security that could result in the death penalty.
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The regime famously pursued mass executions as part of a “death commission” in 1988, which punished dissidents and political prisoners.
The commission allegedly led to the deaths of roughly 4,500 to 5,000 men, women and children in prisons across Iran, according to Amnesty International. A former deputy of the ayatollah later claimed as many as 30,000 may have died.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi allegedly took part in the commission, with many former victims identifying him as being “in the room” when they were questioned.
Protests broke out across Iran two months ago following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who allegedly breached the country’s laws regarding headscarves, called a hijab. The morality police arrested her and an hour later rushed her to a hospital after claiming she had “slipped into a coma.”
But Amini’s family refuted the police report and said she had suffered injuries consistent with physical beatings. She died in hospital a few days later, and her death prompted protests that have now spread to over 140 cities and towns across Iran.
At least 326 protesters have died in violent crackdowns by security forces, IHRNGO claimed.
The Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) has put the total at closer to 341 deaths, with around 15,800 detained, according to the BBC.
The Islamic Republic News Agency reported that Judiciary Chief Gholam Hossein Ejei last week issued a statement that “rioters” would be dealt with “firmly and strongly based on law and fairness,” claiming the protesters have “disturbed the security of people, disrupted their livelihood and insulted their sanctities.”