Iran protests: Mohsen Shekari is hanged in first known execution over anti-government demonstrations

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Iran has executed 23-year-old Mohsen Shekari after a revolutionary court found him guilty of “waging war against God”.

Iran has conducted its first known execution in relation to the anti-government protests which have engulfed the country.

Mohsen Shekari, 23, was hanged on Thursday (8 December) after a revolutionary court found him guilty of “waging a war against God”, state media reported. He was accused of being a “rioter”, allegedly blocking a main road in Tehran in September and wounding a member of a paramilitary force with a machete.

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Human rights activists have said he was convicted after a “show trial without any due process”, and “denied access to his lawyer throughout the interrogation phase and legal proceedings.” They also warned that “mass executions” of other detainees who have been involved in the demonstrations could soon follow.

The UK has summoned Iran’s most senior diplomat in Britain following the execution. The government has also sanctioned Iranian court judges and prison officials linked to the treatment of protesters.

UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, who said he is “outraged” by the news, wrote on Twitter: “Yesterday, #MohsenShekari was brutally executed by the regime. In response to this, the UK has summoned the Iranian Charge D’affaires. Today we have sanctioned Iranian court judges and prison officials linked to the oppression of protesters. We must hold Iran to account.”

23-year-old Mohsen Shekari has been hanged by the Iranian Government in the first execution linked to the protests taking over the country. Credit: Amnesty Iran on Twitter23-year-old Mohsen Shekari has been hanged by the Iranian Government in the first execution linked to the protests taking over the country. Credit: Amnesty Iran on Twitter
23-year-old Mohsen Shekari has been hanged by the Iranian Government in the first execution linked to the protests taking over the country. Credit: Amnesty Iran on Twitter | Amnesty Iran on Twitter

Protests against Iran’s brutal regime and authoritarian ‘morality police’ first began in September after the death of Mahsa Amini. The 22-year-old died in police custody after being detained for allegedly breaking hijab rules.

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Since then, hundreds of citizens, including children, have been killed as officials crack down on protesters - with thousands others arrested. Courts in Iran have thus far sentenced five demonstrators to death, but Mr Shekari’s death is the first execution to be publicly reported by state media.

Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, director of Oslo-based organisation Iran Human Rights, wrote that the execution “must be met with strong reactions otherwise we will be facing daily executions of protesters”. He added: “This execution must have rapid practical consequences internationally.”

A picture obtained by AFP Iran shows shows a demonstrator raising his arms and makes the victory sign during a protest for Mahsa Amini. Credit: Getty ImagesA picture obtained by AFP Iran shows shows a demonstrator raising his arms and makes the victory sign during a protest for Mahsa Amini. Credit: Getty Images
A picture obtained by AFP Iran shows shows a demonstrator raising his arms and makes the victory sign during a protest for Mahsa Amini. Credit: Getty Images | AFP via Getty Images

Mr Shekari’s uncle Mahmoud Shekari told The Guardian that authorities “have started a familiar game to torture his family” by not releasing his body, a complaint that aligns with the experiences of other families of dead protesters. He said the family had been sent to two cemeteries, but that when they arrived at the locations, they were told the body was not there.

The Mizan News Agency, which is run by the judiciary in Iran, said Mr Shekari had first been arrested on 25 September and then convicted on 20 November in Tehran’s Revolutionary Court, which typically holds closed-door cases. Iran’s state media also published a video of what it said was Mr Shekari’s confession to the crime, which showed him with a bruise on his right cheek.

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Germany’s Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock, said the Iranian regime’s “inhumanity knows no bounds”, while France’s foreign ministry has said the “execution is yet another instance of the serious, unacceptable violations of fundamental rights and freedoms committed by the Iranian authorities”. The European Union added it “condemns his execution in the strongest possible terms”.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken said America was “appalled” by Mr Shekari’s execution, writing on Twitter: “Our message to Iran’s leadership is clear: End this brutal crackdown. We will continue to hold the Iranian regime accountable.”

Amnesty Iran said it is “horrified” by the execution which came “less than three weeks after sentencing him in a grossly unfair sham trial.” The organisation said his death “exposes the inhumanity of Iran’s so-called justice system as dozens of others face the same fate.”

The nationwide protests were sparked when Mahsa Amini died in police custody after being arrested for allegedly breaking the country’s strict hijab rules. Credit: Getty ImagesThe nationwide protests were sparked when Mahsa Amini died in police custody after being arrested for allegedly breaking the country’s strict hijab rules. Credit: Getty Images
The nationwide protests were sparked when Mahsa Amini died in police custody after being arrested for allegedly breaking the country’s strict hijab rules. Credit: Getty Images | AFP via Getty Images

When the death sentences were first announced, Elika Ashoori, a British Iranian living in London, told NationalWorld that she thinks they will continue “for as long as they are able to.” She said: “You are looking at a nation that is killing children, women and unarmed civilians. This doesn’t come as a shock to me, unfortunately. It is a scare tactic that has worked before, in the 1980s, and it is one they will use again until there is some form of outside intervention.”

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She added that the judge who is giving out the sentences, Judge Abolghassem Salavati, is not allowed to practise anywhere outside of Iran “because of the crimes against humanity he has committed.” It is the same judge who sentenced Elika’s father Anoosheh Ashoori, who was imprisoned in Tehran on bogus spying charges until earlier in the year. He was released alongside Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

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