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As Protests Rage, Iran Executes Another Man, This Time in Public

Majidreza Rahnavard was hanged after being accused of killing two members of a paramilitary force in the northeastern city of Mashhad.

This image was taken from a video reportedly showing protesters marching in Zahedan, southeastern Iran, on Friday. Credit: Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Iran announced on Monday that it had hanged a man in a public execution in what is believed to be the second death sentence carried out against a protester since the Islamic Republic began a crackdown on antigovernment demonstrations that first flared in September.

The man, Majidreza Rahnavard, was hanged in the city of Mashhad, in northeastern Iran, “in public in the presence of a group of people” from the city, according to the news agency Mizan, which is overseen by the Iranian judiciary.

The news agency posted images of a young man in light clothes that it said was Mr. Rahnavard, his head covered, hanging from a rope attached to a crane at night.

Mr. Rahnavard was accused of stabbing to death two members of the Basij militia — a plainclothes volunteer force that is part of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps — and of wounding four other people in the northeastern Iranian city of Mashhad last month, Mizan said. A court convicted Mr. Rahnavard of “moharebeh,” or “waging war against God,” the agency reported.

Mashhad, like other cities across Iran, has been the scene of furious protests for the past three months, with protesters calling for an end to the Islamic Republic. The protests erupted in September after a young woman, Mahsa Amini, died in the custody of the morality police after being arrested and charged with violating the country’s strict head scarf law.

Mizan said that Mr. Rahnavard was arrested on Nov. 19 as he was planning to flee Iran. The agency did not give Mr. Rahnavard’s age or provide further details about him.

Mr. Rahnavard is one of 11 people accused of being protesters who have so far been sentenced to death by Tehran, according to Iran Human Rights, a nongovernmental organization based in Oslo. Last week, the Iranian government announced that it had hanged a 23-year-old prisoner accused of blocking a street in Tehran and of attacking a member of the Basij militia with a machete. He was also accused of waging war against God.

The speedy executions were seen as an intensification of the government’s response to the demonstrations and an attempt to intimidate protesters who have been calling for the end of clerical rule.

At least 458 people, including 63 children, have been killed in the continuing nationwide protests, according to Iran Human Rights, and thousands more were said to have been arrested.

According to Mizan, Mr. Rahnavard was judged in court in the presence of his lawyers; witnesses; and “the martyrs’ family members,” referring to the victims’ relatives, in a trial that began on Nov. 29. The agency said that Mr. Rahnavard had confessed to having made a mistake and that he had come to the conclusion that the protesters were wrong.

Iranian activists and public figures called the proceedings a “mock trial” and said that Mr. Rahnavard had been denied due process.

“Majidreza Rahnavard was sentenced to death based on coerced confessions, after a grossly unfair process and a show trial,” Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, director of Iran Human Rights, said in a statement. “There is a serious risk of mass-execution of protesters,” he added.

An organization that shares updates about the protests, 1500 Tasvir, posted on Twitter that Mr. Rahnavard’s mother had visited him in prison but had not been told that he would be executed.

The Human Rights Activist News Agency, an Iranian opposition website based in the United States, said that Mr. Rahnavard was 23 and had been working in a fruit shop in Mashhad before his arrest.

The German foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, said on Monday that the European Union would impose new sanctions on the Revolutionary Guards.

“We are targeting in particular those who are responsible for the executions, the violence against innocent people,” Ms. Baerbock told reporters in Brussels.


(c) 2022, New York Times



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