Authorities in Iran executed by hanging a prisoner for a crime allegedly committed during the ongoing protests across the country.
It was the first such death penalty carried out by the regime, and it comes as there are reports that at least a dozen other detainees also potentially face the same for their alleged participation in the months-long protests—one of the most serious challenges to Iran’s theocratic rule since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
The protests kicked off following the September 16 death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in police custody. She was arrested on the 13th by the morality police for not properly wearing a religious head covering called a hijab.
Iran’s religious Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, has called Amini’s death a “tragic accident.”
Iran’s government for months has been trying to allege that foreign countries have fomented the unrest, but the regime has offered no evidence to back its claims. Protesters say they are angry over the collapse of the economy, heavy-handed policing and the entrenched power of the country’s Islamic clergy.
Iran’s judiciary news agency identified the protester who was executed on Thursday as Mohsen Shekari. He was convicted in Tehran’s Revolutionary Court, which usually holds trials behind closed doors.
Shekari was accused of blocking a street in Tehran and attacking a member of the security forces with a machete, the judiciary news agency said.
After he was hanged, Iranian state television aired a heavily edited report showing the courtroom and parts of Shekari’s trial.
Thursday’s execution “must be met with strong reactions otherwise we will be facing daily executions of protesters,” wrote Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, the director of the Oslo-based activist group Iran Human Rights. “This execution must have rapid practical consequences internationally.”