MMore than three months after the protests began in Iran, two more protesters were executed. The Iranian judiciary announced on Saturday that Mohammed-Mehdi K. and Sejed-Mohammed H. had been hanged in the early hours of the morning. They are said to have been responsible for the death of a security officer during the system-critical protests in November, according to the judiciary on its web portal Mizan. This increases the number of demonstrators executed in the course of the more than three-month system-critical protests to four.
According to the judicial authority, the two men had admitted in court to having stabbed an allegedly unarmed security officer with a knife during protests in Karaj, a suburb of the capital Tehran. The security guard was a member of the notorious paramilitary Basij unit of the Revolutionary Guards. According to the Mizan report, the supreme court rejected the plea for clemency by the two accused and upheld the death sentence.
After the repeated execution of demonstrators in Iran, Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock called for more pressure from the EU on Tehran. Mohammed-Mehdi K. and Sejed-Mohammed H. were hanged by the regime “because they did not want to submit to the brutal and inhumane actions,” wrote the Greens politician on Twitter on Saturday. These are two “further terrible fates that encourage us to further increase the pressure on Tehran with the EU”.
Other federal politicians called for harsh consequences. The regime in Tehran is a terror regime and belongs on the EU terror list, wrote the CDU foreign politician Norbert Röttgen, adding: “This must finally reach the Foreign Minister and the Chancellery.” FDP Secretary General Bijan Djir-Sarai tweeted: “The crimes of the regime continue (…) When will the EU finally act? When will the Revolutionary Guards finally be put on the EU terror list?”
Currency worth a quarter less
In the course of the nationwide protests, the rap musicians Mohsen S. and Majid-Resa R. were executed in December for the alleged murder and attempted murder of two Basij members. The executions caused horror at home and abroad. The EU then decided on further sanctions against Iran, also because of the serious violations of human rights.
According to experts, the sanctions have exacerbated the already acute economic crisis. The national currency, the rial, lost more than 25 percent of its value after the protests. In view of the developments in the country, there is no end in sight to the financial crisis. Some observers even fear an economic collapse in the oil-rich country.
According to the latest estimates by the US-based organization Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), more than 500 people have died in the protests, including 70 minors and almost 70 police and security forces. More than 19,000 demonstrators were arrested.
New police chief advocates strict dress code
There is conflicting information on the number of people arrested and sentenced to death, as some have had their death sentences overturned in appeal courts. There is talk of 20 demonstrators who are said to be on the judiciary’s death list. Tehran has so far neither confirmed nor denied these and similar statements.
Meanwhile, the Iranian leadership has fired the country’s police chief. Hussein Ashtari was deposed on Saturday by Head of State Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Isna news agency reported. A reason for the change at the top of the police force was not given.
However, Ashtari came under criticism after 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman Jina Mahsa Amini died in police custody in September. Amini was arrested by the so-called vice police because a few strands of hair were visible under the obligatory headscarf. Her death triggered the ongoing protests in the country, which are directed against the government’s repressive course and the Islamic system of rule. Ashtari has always maintained that the police were not to blame for Amini’s death. However, critics believe that the young woman was beaten by police officers and died of a brain hemorrhage.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has now appointed former deputy chief Ahmad-Resa Radan to head the Iranian police force. He is known for his radical attitudes. In particular, he always campaigned for women to strictly adhere to the Islamic dress code. In his opinion, young men should also not follow western hairstyle trends and be arrested if they violate them. Radan has been on a US sanctions list for 12 years for human rights violations.