Iranian Executions: Women. Life. Freedom.

On January 16th, France’s Eiffel Tower was lit up in support of Iranian protesters against the Islamic Republic of Iran. Slogans with “Women. Life. Freedom” and “#Stop Executions in Iran” were splayed across the monument. 

The September arrest and subsequent death of Jina “Mahsa” Amini by Iran’s morality police catalyzed a series of international anti-government protests. The regime’s continued response to detain, torture, and execute protestors has further instigated international uproar against Iran’s state enacted violence. 

Four months after the death of Mahsa Amini, Paris City Hall lit the tower as an act of allegiance to “those who are bravely fighting for their freedom as the (Iranian) regime is continuing executions of protestors.”  On the same day, nearly 12,000 people protested at the E.U. Parliament in the French city of Strasbourg to support the Iranian protests. Protesters urged the E.U. to declare the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps “terrorists.”

According to the Associated Press, the E.U.’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrel, applied further pressure for the E.U. to officially acknowledge the Iranian Revolutionary Guard to be “in its entirety as a terrorist organization.” The Oslo-based organization Iran Human Rights (I.H.R.) estimates that 109 protestors have been sentenced to death. Thus far, I.H.R. has reported that 481 protestors have been killed, including 64 minors—these numbers are expected to grow if Iran continues with executions. However, the Center of Human Rights in Iran (C.H.R.I.) has reason to believe that the reported executions do not account for “suspicious deaths.” C.H.R.I. sources, human rights organizations, and journalists have produced strong evidence that Iranian authorities have produced “staged” causes for death amongst detainees to “cover-up” state-issued murder. “The alleged suicides, which all involve young women and men who were recently released from detention in connection with the ongoing anti-government street protests in Iran, have been characterized by counter claims by family members, countervailing evidence, and indications of severe mistreatment in prison, including beatings and forced injections of unknown drugs while in detention,” the CHRI claims. 

C.H.R.I. Executive Director Hadi Ghaemi stressed, “We are seeing a number of suspicious deaths of released detainees who were clearly tortured while in state custody, with families being forced to quickly bury their loved ones after being blocked from carrying out independent autopsies.” Some of the many victims of “suspicious deaths” that C.H.R.I. detailed include Atefeh Na’ami (37), Abbas Mansouri (19) , Yalda Aghafazli (19), Arshia Emamgholizadeh Alamdari (16), Sarina Esmaeilzadeh (16), and Nika Shakarami (16).

According to information collected by the New York Times, the majority of men who have been arrested have been charged with “waging a war on God”—also known as “moharebeh” in Farsi—a punishable offence that results in execution by hanging. Human rights groups—including Amnesty International—claim that the judicial proceeding for charged defendants include coerced confessions, torture, and inequitable trials. In spite of rule-of-law principles for a fair trial, IranWire reports that defendants are oftentimes tried without fair or chosen legal representation. Moreover, verdicts are regularly expedited to the Supreme Court for quick approval. Defendants are unable to appeal their convictions, and are commonly convicted with severe anti-government charges which result in capital punishment.

“The weaponization of criminal procedures to punish people for exercising their basic rights – such as those participating in or organizing demonstrations – amounts to state sanctioned killing,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk said in a statement from Al Jazeera. The continued violence against protestors in Iran has not reaped the regime’s intended effects. Instead, it has strengthened the international community’s resolve to advocate against the Islamic Republic of Iran’s state sanctioned killing. As Iranians continue to face their authoritative regime, it is imperative that international actors continue to condemn and expose the violence against basic human freedoms. 

The protests in Iran initially began as a call to action for the protection of women’s rights. However, both men and women who voice their concerns against the current political paradigm are treated with utmost violence, with no regard for their right to life or freedom. The Islamic Republic of Iran seeks to protect its own freedoms, going so far to violate and terminate their own citizens—rendering them as domestic terrorists. As protesters face incomprehensible violence, the global consciousness must critically consider how to protect and advocate those who face unscrupulous realities in Iran.