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Iranian Embassy Protest London Mahsa Amini
Photography by Meg Tall

Iran carries out its first execution over Mahsa Amini protests

23-year-old protestor Mohsen Shekari was reportedly executed earlier this week

Iran has announced the first execution of a protester convicted over the recent anti-government unrest. According to state media, protestor Mohsen Shekari was hanged on Thursday morning (December 8) after being found guilty by a Revolutionary Court of “enmity against God”.

The 23-year-old was accused of being a “rioter” who blocked a main road in Tehran in September, and wounded a member of a paramilitary force with a machete. Another Iranian activist said he was convicted after a “show trial without any due process”.

“The international community must immediately and strongly react to this execution,” Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, director of the Norway-based group Iran Human Rights, said in a statement. “If Mohsen Shekari's execution is not met with serious consequences for the government, we will face mass execution of protesters.”

Iran has witnessed unrelenting civil unrest following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody in September. According to the New York Times, these protests have been the largest wave of civil disobedience Iran has seen since 2009, and one of the most sustained challenges to Iran’s government since the 1979 Islamic revolution. 

The protests have resulted in bloodshed and violence: Iran Human Rights has reported that at least 327 people – including 43 children – have been killed by the Iranian state, while Amnesty International has reported that Iranian security forces have been firing into groups of protestors with live ammunition and attacking them with batons.

In November, rumours spread across Instagram and Twitter that over 15,000 protestors were set to be given death sentences for their actions. Although there is still no clear evidence of this, on November 6, CNN reported that a letter signed by 227 members of the Iranian parliament urged that the protesters be shown “no leniency”, and given harsh punishment that “would serve as a good lesson in the shortest possible time.”

According to Newsweek, the parliament followed this up on November 7 by voting overwhelmingly in favour of the death penalty for protesters. 227 out of the 290 total members voted to execute all protestors in custody (the same number of lawmakers who signed the letter).

Amiry-Moghaddam said at the time: “We are very concerned that the death sentences may be carried out hastily. The international community must send a strong warning to the Iranian authorities that implementation of the death sentence for protesters is not acceptable and will have heavy consequences.”

The United Nations also said in a statement: “We urge Iranian authorities to stop using the death penalty as a tool to squash protests and reiterate our call to immediately release all protesters who have been arbitrarily deprived of their liberty”.