Three peaceful protesters face death sentence through Iran’s judicial system

Sari Noah
Researcher for ImpACT International

 

Iranians from all over the world have taken to the twitter handle ‘#اعدام_نکنید’ or #DoNotExecute, since Tuesday. Artists, bloggers, teachers, doctors and people from all sectors of Iranian society have made it their responsibility to use social media platforms in an attempt to address the inhumane continuation of the death sentence in Iran.

This twitter handle has taken a remarkable percentage of the social media platform, with over 4.5 million tweets against Iran’s death sentence decision. The storm of protests over social media had been in response to the Iranian judiciaries decision to uphold the death sentence on three young Iranian men who had partaken in anti-government protests in November 2019. The call for ending executions had also instigated thousands of posts on other social media platforms such as Telegram, Instagram and Facebook.

The three men, Amirhossein Moradi aged 25, Mohammad Rajabi aged 27 and Saeed Tamjidi aged 27 were charged with “participation in vandalism and arson with the intent to engage in war with the Islamic Republic of Iran”. This vaguely worded judicial sentence is a commonly found tactic amongst the Iranian legal court, in which the laws are vaguely described thus allowing the judiciary to implement unclearly worded charges.

The men’s lawyers had stated that the three young men were forced to confess to being found guilty for a crime they had not possessed. Forced confessions are commonly seen in the Iranian crime court in which prisoners are tortured to confess for crimes they had not committed. The men had limited access to their lawyers whilst the security forces tortured them to confess to vaguely defined security charges.

Their trials had been unfair, where the men had been subject to months of torture through electric shock torture, being hung upside down for exceeded periods and countless beatings. The lawyers had stated that the authorities refused to allow them to defend their client’s cases, further emphasising that the lawyers have no information regarding their client's trials.

Just a couple of months ago, on the 21st of April 2020, Shayan Saeedpour had been executed at the young age of 21 years old at the time. At the age of 17, he was sentenced by the criminal court in Kurdistan for the conviction of stabbing a man. This crime committed by a child meant that Saeeedpour was sentenced to death in 2018. This execution is further proof of the government's blatant disregard for human life and basic rights. 

The use of the death sentence is nothing new to the Iranian public, just last year the judiciary had sentenced 251 to death, most commonly by hanging. Iran more than any other country is in active user of the death sentence.

Since the Iranian regime’s establishment in 1979 the Islamic republic extended its capital offense list to include at least 131 capital offenses. All of which, but three, pave way for the death sentence. The main criminal statute that is still in use today is the Islamic criminal code of 1991/96 which was only renewed and reviewed in 2007 and is currently included in the legislative procedures. This criminal code of 1991/96 allows for the legal death penalty of any convict under Islamic authority. Capital punishment is a penalty in the Islamic republic making the death sentence legal. The death penalty law in Iran applies to many acts that are not considered illegal by any other countries such as infidelity of a married women, conspiring or being convicted a spy for western regimes, rape, consumption of alcohol and espionage such as ‘waging war against god or the country’ as the three men had been convicted of. 

The laws regarding the death penalty are created by the Islamic consultative assembly, or the Majilis. Since 1979, with the creation of the new republic the laws had been stated to be allegedly consistent with Sharia law. In most cases the Islamic revolutionary court tries most the offences that wrongfully accuse the protestors against treason on the state. Since its establishment in 1979 the revolutionary court has had the power to execute anyone, they deem to bring corruption on the land. These courts were founded when the Islamic regime came to power in 1979, in which time they began to gain the power to decide the fate of their people.

 

Death penalty of minors

History of the death penalty for minors under the age of 18 in Iran has been an area of major flaw that demands change. Since 1990 there had been 11 children under the age of 18 being executed. This makes Iran the world’s largest executioner of juvenile offenders. In the eyes of the Islamic penal code a child is defined differently to laws in other countries. According to article 49 of the Islamic penal code Iran defines a child as someone who has not reached the age of puberty, making that the average of 14 years old. 

Methods of legal execution in the Islamic republic are most commonly hanging, firing squads and stoning. Additionally, the Iranian government has not abided to the law that states that all executions must take place in public. However, in most case most executions happen in prisons.

It is essential for these laws and policies to be changed and abolished completely as the rights of ordinary Iranians are being threatened on the daily. Children can be ripped from their parents at any time whilst peaceful protestors can find themselves wrongfully convicted of a crime.

This is an extreme situation in which all human rights organisations and governments must address immediately. In November 2019 protests broke out across Iran over the rising price of gasoline. Since the beginning of the protests in November of 2019 thousands of unarmed peaceful protestors has been killed, the Iranian government is now about to kill 3 more. The protestors had been practising their basic rights, against the rising gas prices, their falling economy and their cry for a better Iran. Yet, similar to the thousands who had been silently killed by the government over the years, the lives of these three men are in the hands of an unjust legal system. 

The use of the death sentence is nothing new to the Iranian public, just last year the judiciary had sentenced 251 to death, most commonly by hanging. Iran more than any other country is in active user of the death sentence.

When faced with mass demonstrations or domestic disruptions the government repeatedly engages in netblocks and internet shutdowns. In an attempt to silence the protestors and prevent further information to be leaked out of the country, the Islamic republic is using the same brute methods as it had when attempting to shut down the 2009 Green Movement against rigged election results. The speed of internet since Tuesday had begun to drop in an attempt to brutally silence the Iranian population and reporters contacts with the outside.

Rajabi, Tamjidi and Moradi may be executed at any stage this week. The time is running out to seek justice for these three men, whose lives are being taken so easily by their governments. The government strategically has used these three men to intimidate and silence the public to prevent future unrest to unfold. With the execution of these young men, the government are trying to send a message to the public reminding them that they can kill if challenged.

The fast-past continuation of the death sentence in Iran is vengeful and cruel in every way. The scheduled execution of these wrongfully evicted men is degrading , and governments across the globe should urge for it to be repealed immediately.  

Related

Legal Framework for Establishing of Human Rights Groups in Saudi Arab...

Saudi government frequently bans meetings and closes down associations

Israeli factory repeatedly violates workers' rights in Jordan

.The management of Israeli factory Hilbash Moshe in Jordan must stop violating workers' rights, which has escalated during the coronavirus pandemic

Moving Beyond Compliance: Integrating Respect for Human Rights and An...

Moving Beyond Compliance: Integrating Respect for Human Rights and Anti-Corruption