World leaders and human rights groups are bracing for a wave of executions in Iran, as hardline leaders begin handing down death penalty sentences to clamp down on nationwide protests that have raged for nearly two months.
Twenty-seven-year-old Kurdish Rapper Saman Yasin was sentenced to death by Iran’s Revolutionary Court for setting fire to a government building, marking the first use of capital punishment by officials turning to increasingly brutal methods to quell mass protests over the death of a 22-year-old woman killed in police custody after she was arrested for improperly wearing her hijab.
Iranian authorities have said that 516 people involved in the protests would face trial starting this week. According to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), four defendants are charged with “war against God,” an offense that carries the death penalty.
Iran’s judiciary chief, Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei, said, “These individuals will be punished and this punishment will be a disincentive,” WSJ reported.
Nearly two dozen protesters are facing charges punishable by death, warns the nongovernmental organization Iran Human Rights (IHR).
“The international community must strongly warn the Islamic Republic of the consequences of executing protesters,” said Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, IHR Director. “Summoning their ambassadors and implementing stronger effective human rights action against state officials are amongst the consequences European countries must consider.”
In a warning to the international community, IHR said that Iran has a history of using the death penalty to create societal fear and said hasty executions could come “without any prewarning.”
The UN Human Rights Council announced that it will convene a special session to address “the deteriorating human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
Since the protests began, thousands of protesters have been arrested, and at least 326 people have been killed in the crackdown by Iranian authorities.
In late October, reports surfaced that Iranian security forces began firing live rounds at protesters. In a single incident, the Iranian regime killed as many as six people, including a 12-year-old boy.
Despite the growing international outrage, Iranian clerics and officials remain committed to using execution as a preferred method of disincentivising uprisings and anti-government sentiment throughout the country.
“We, the representatives of this nation, ask all state officials, including the judiciary, to treat those, who waged war [against the Islamic establishment] and attacked people’s life and property like the Daesh [terrorists], in a way that would serve as a good lesson in the shortest possible time,” Iranian lawmakers wrote in a letter calling for the judiciary to “show no leniency” to protesters.