A court in Iran’s capital has handed down its first-known death sentence Sunday to a person arrested in the Mahsa Amini protests that have swept the country for nearly two months, state media has said.
According to Axios, an unnamed protestor was accused of setting a government building on fire and sentenced to death Sunday after being convicted of “corruption on Earth.” On Tuesday, NBC reported that a second protestor had also received a death sentence for allegedly “creating terror and fright in the streets, stabbing and injuring a person and setting a citizen’s motorcycle on fire.”
Another five protestors were sentenced to prison time of between five to 10 years, per Axios’ report.
Protests over the death of Mahsa Amini have enveloped the country for nearly two months, marking Iran’s largest uprising since the 1979 revolution and arguably the best opportunity to bring freedom to the country.
The regime’s response to the uprisings has been brutal. Iranian officials have repeatedly accused the “riots” of being the result of interference from foreign governments. At least 326 protesters, including children, have been killed in the crackdown by Iran’s security forces, according to estimates by Iran Human Rights.
Thousands have been arrested in connection with the protests — an approximated 14,000, per the UN’s numbers. Iran’s state media released a letter on Sunday signed by over two hundred members of Iran’s parliament calling for “no leniency” from the judiciary in handing down sentences for the arrested protestors.
The death penalty is the latest tool the regime has used to sow fear and attempt to stop the protests. Iran has indicted at least 1,000 protestors in Tehran alone for their alleged involvement in the demonstrations and at least 20 people face charges that, if convicted, would result in the death penalty, according to Iran Human Rights. The NGO has warned that the Iranian regime may be planning “hasty executions” based on the government’s previous use of the death penalty to create fear.
“[The United States is] deeply concerned about reports from Iran of mass arrests, sham trials, and now a death sentence for protesters voicing legitimate demands against a government that systematically denies basic dignity and freedom to its people,” White House national security advisor Jake Sullivan said in a statement Monday. “The eyes of the world are on Iran. The human rights abuses inflicted by its government must not go without consequence.”
In response to the death sentence, the European Union instituted fresh sanctions on Iran on Monday, limiting the movement and assets of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and others. It is hoped that more countries in the international community will follow suit to dissuade Iran from thinking it can execute its own citizens free of consequences.
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Image: “Protestors in California march in solidarity with women in Iran.” (Photo credit: Craig Melville on Unsplash.)