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'Iran executions are state-sanctioned killing'

By AFP - Jan 10,2023 - Last updated at Jan 10,2023

Protesters hold placards at a march in central London on Monday against the Iranian regime, on the third anniversary of the downing of Ukrainian passenger jet, flight PS752, shortly after its takeoff from Tehran (AFP photo)

GENEVA — Iran is weaponising the death penalty to frighten the public and crush dissent, and its execution of protesters without due process amounts to state-sanctioned killing, the UN said on Tuesday.

Tehran has executed four people in connection with nearly four months of demonstrations in the country, with two more executions scheduled imminently and at least 17 other individuals reportedly sentenced to death, the United Nations Human Rights Office in Geneva said.

"Criminal proceedings and the death penalty are being weaponised by the Iranian government to punish individuals participating in protests and to strike fear into the population so as to stamp out dissent, in violation of international human rights law," UN rights chief Volker Turk's office said.

The Islamic republic has been rocked by a wave of protests since the death in custody on September 16 of Kurdish Iranian Amini, 22, following her arrest for allegedly violating Iran's strict dress code for women.

"The weaponisation of criminal procedures to punish people for exercising their basic rights, such as those participating in or organising demonstrations, amounts to state-sanctioned killing," Turk said.

"The government of Iran would better serve its interests and those of its people by listening to their grievances, and by undertaking the legal and policy reforms necessary to ensure respect for diversity of opinion, the rights to freedom of expression and assembly, and the full respect and protection of the rights of women in all areas of life."

The UN Human Rights Office said it had received information that two further executions are imminent — that of 22-year-old Mohammad Ghobadlou and Mohammad Boroghani, 19.

“I reiterate once more my call to the government of Iran to respect the lives and voices of its people, to impose an immediate moratorium on the death penalty and to halt all executions,” Turk said.

“Iran must take sincere steps to embark on the reforms that are required and demanded by their own people for the respect and protection of their human rights.”

Meanwhile, Iran has sentenced another man to death in connection with the protests triggered by the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, the judiciary said Tuesday.

The Islamic republic has been gripped by civil unrest since the September 16 death of 22-year-old Amini following her arrest for allegedly violating Iran’s strict dress code.

Javad Rouhi was sentenced to death on charges of “corruption on Earth”, the judiciary’s Mizan Online news website reported.

The sentence, which can still be appealed, brings to 18 the total number of people the judiciary have announced have been condemned to death in connection with the protests.

The sentence, which can still be appealed, brings to 18 the total number of people the judiciary have announced have been condemned to death in connection with the protests.

Rouhi was found guilty of “leading a group of rioters”, “inciting people to create insecurity”, as well as of “apostasy by desecration of the Koran by burning it”, Mizan Online reported.

He was also found guilty of “setting fire to and destroying property in a way that causes severe disruption to the country’s public order and security”, it added.

Iranian authorities say hundreds of people, including members of the security forces, have been killed and thousands arrested during the protests which they mostly describe as “riots”.

Tehran accuses hostile foreign countries and opposition groups of stoking the unrest.

Four executions have been carried out, and six of those sentenced to capital punishment have been granted retrials.

According to London-based rights group Amnesty International, Iran is second only to China in its use of the death penalty, with at least 314 people executed in 2021.

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