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Iranian Protesters Sentenced To Death Could Be Executed Soon, Reports

Newsweek 12/5/2022 Giulia Carbonaro
A protest was held in Turkey against Iran, and Iranians living in Turkey participated in the protest on November 26, 2022 in İstanbul, Türkiye. The head of judiciary has confirmed the death penalty for "some" protesters and said those will be carried out "soon." © Hakan Akgun/ dia images via Getty Images A protest was held in Turkey against Iran, and Iranians living in Turkey participated in the protest on November 26, 2022 in İstanbul, Türkiye. The head of judiciary has confirmed the death penalty for "some" protesters and said those will be carried out "soon."

The head of Iran's judiciary Gholam Hossein Mohseni-Eje'i has said that "some" of the death sentences given to an unspecified number of protesters in recent weeks for crimes allegedly committed during mass demonstrations—including "corruption on earth" and "waging war against God"—have been confirmed and "will be carried out soon," according to reports.

Mohseni-Eje'i was quoted by Iranian newspaper Shargh, the media center of the judiciary and the semi-official news agency ISNA, as well as his comments being translated and shared by BBC reporter Kian Sharifi on Twitter. According to Sharifi, at least six protesters detained in protests over the past three months have received death sentences to date.

Exactly when the sentences will be carried out is not specified, but Mohseni-Eje'i is quoted as saying that the "patience" of the country's responsible institutions towards protesters "is not endless" and that authorities will "pursue and try to punish" those threatening to destabilize the Islamic Republic.

Reports from various sources, including the BBC, state that since November 13, Iran's authorities have sentenced five unidentified protesters—all men—to death. They were found guilty of "enmity against God" and "corruption on earth" for their role in the demonstrations that have swept the country since the death of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in September, while in the custody of Iran's morality police.

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A press release published on November 11 by the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner reports that eight people were charged on October 29 by an Islamic Revolutionary Court in Tehran province with crimes carrying the death penalty.

According to a report released on November 16 by Amnesty International, at least 21 protesters—including one woman—are at risk of receiving the death penalty following what the NGO described as sham trials that highlight "the deeply flawed nature of the proceedings by Revolutionary Courts."

Newsweek has contacted Amnesty for comment and an update on the protesters' fate.

"A number of relatives of prisoners have reported jail sentences for those arrested in recent protests," Yassamine Mather, a Middle East specialist at the University of Oxford, told Newsweek.

"Some of those arrested are facing at least two to three-year jail sentences. The prosecutor general has also announced today that a number of those arrested in the protests will be charged with Mofssed and Mohareb ["enmity against God" and "corruption on earth"] and their sentences will be announced soon. This is a far more serious offence and can have long prison sentences or even execution. However at this stage we don't know."

Mather believes that it's possible that Iranian authorities will carry out death sentences and "then claim that these individuals are 'agents' of foreign powers, the U.S., U.K., Israel…"

Both Amnesty and the UN OHCHR have urged Iranian authorities to stop using the death penalty as an instrument to quell protests. The regime in Iran has arrested thousands of protesters since the latest round of protests began on September 16, and security forces sent to quash protests are estimated to have killed hundreds of people—including children, teenagers and women.

Since the anti-government mass protests of November 2019 in Iran, also known as "Bloody November," the country's regime has been using the death penalty against individuals participating in the protests, the UN OHCHR writes.

Last month, NGO Iran Human Rights warned that Iranian officials might move quickly to execute some of the protesters sentenced to death.

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