Iranian authorities on Friday executed three men convicted of violence against the Islamic republic’s security forces during protests triggered by Mahsa Amini’s death in custody last year, the judiciary said.
Majid Kazemi, Saleh Mirhashemi and Saeed Yaghoubi were convicted of “moharebeh”, or “war against God”, for drawing a gun during a demonstration in the central city of Isfahan, leading to the deaths of three members of the security forces, the judiciary’s Mizan Online news website said.
Iran witnessed waves of nationwide protests following the September 16 death of 22-year-old Amini, an Iranian Kurd who had been arrested for an alleged breach of strict dress rules for women.
During the protests, which Tehran generally labelled as foreign-instigated “riots”, thousands of Iranians were arrested and hundreds killed including dozens of security forces.
Friday’s hangings bring the total of Iranians executed in connection with the protests to seven.
Kazemi, Mirhashemi and Yaghoubi were arrested in November and sentenced to death in January.
They were also charged with membership of “illegal groups with the intention of disrupting national security and collusion leading to crimes against internal security”, Mizan said.
It noted “evidence and documents in the case and the clear statements made by the accused” showed that “the shootings carried out by these three people led to the martyrdom of three security forces”.
Their cases have caused concern abroad, including in Australia where some of Kazemi’s family live.
His cousin Mohammad Hashemi wrote an open letter to Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong asking for her support.
“Majid is only 30 years old. He is a compassionate, loving, and strong-willed person. He, like many other Iranians, participated in peaceful demonstrations to raise his voice and demand change,” Hashemi wrote in the letter, published on the petition website change.org.
Iran executes more people a year than any other nation except China, according to human rights groups including Amnesty International.
The authorities last year carried out the executions of four protesters, prompting international condemnation.
Since the start of the year, Iran has witnessed a surge in executions on various charges, to campaigners’ alarm.
The authorities hanged 75 percent more people in 2022 than the previous year, the Norway-based group Iran Human Rights (IHR) and Paris-based Together Against the Death Penalty said in a joint report in April.
At least 582 people were executed in Iran last year, the highest number of executions in the country since 2015 and well above the 333 recorded in 2021, the two groups said.
But the frenetic pace of executions in 2023 has not slowed, with IHR recently counting over 220 executions so far this year.
Earlier this month, UN rights chief Volker Turk sounded the alarm over Iran’s “abominable” track record this year, with an average of more than 10 people being put to death each week.
Foreign-based advocacy groups have warned that members of ethnic minorities have been disproportionately targeted in the current wave of executions.