Mohsen Shekari, a young protester hanged for injuring a security guard with a knife and closing off a street in the capital Tehran

Iran Defends Hanging Protester Amid Strong International Outcry

Friday, 12/09/2022

Rejecting international reactions over the execution of a protester for injuring a Basij paramilitary agent, the Islamic Republic defends it as a standard procedure. 

In a short statement on its Twitter account, the regime’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed that the government has "exercised the utmost restraint in dealing with the riots".

“In countering riots, the Islamic Republic has shown utmost restraint and -- unlike many Western regimes who smear and violently crack down even on peaceful protesters -- Iran has employed proportionate and standard anti-riot methods. The same is true for the judicial process: restraint and proportionality,” the statement read. 

The ministry then repeated the official rhetoric, blaming other countries for the protests, saying that “Yet, public security is a redline. Armed assault and vandalism aren't tolerable, even to Western regimes... Instead of exposing its mendacity by politicized statements, the West must stop hosting, backing and encouraging terrorists.” 

In his first speech after the execution of the first protester, Mohsen Shekari, President Ebrahim Raisi announced that "the trial and punishment of the protesters" will continue. Also, Ahmad Khatami, a hardliner cleric and Friday prayer Imam expressed his gratitude “for the decisiveness of the judiciary, which sent the first rioter to the gallows.”

President Ebrahim Raisi

Judiciary spokesman Masoud Setayeshi had announced Tuesday that five more people indicted in the killing of a Basij militia member, Rouhollah Ajamian, were sentenced to death. 

Shekari’s hanging after a hasty and unfair trial has sparked deep anger among Iranians, who believe his killing was meant to instill fear among the people, and world leaders who describe the act as the acme of atrocity and a nadir of humanity. 

People across Iran, especially the capital Tehran and Zahedan, the provincial capital of Sistan-Baluchestan province, held rallies in protest to Shekari’s execution and many others who are in danger of imminent execution.

The UN Human Rights council also deplored the hanging of Shekari and expressed concerns for at least 11 other protesters sentenced to death. “We call for an immediate halt to executions. Death penalty is incompatible with human rights and cannot be reconciled with right to life," the body said. 

The global outcry over the executions is not limited to politicians and state officials as many celebrities and right activists have also denounced the act with grassroot activists, known as the youth of Tehran's neighborhoods calling for a demonstration on Saturday afternoon. 

Canada-based activist Hamed Esmaeilion, whose daughter and wife were killed by the IRGC, have also called for rallies in many cities of the world on Saturday and Sunday in protest to Shekari’s execution and all the others planned to take place in the coming days. 

British entrepreneur and business magnate Richard Branson called the execution “unacceptable and cruel.” saying “Iran’s brutal and corrupt regime must be held accountable by the international community.” 

British author and philanthropist J. K. Rowling said in a tweet on Friday that “Mohsen Shekari was murdered by the state for wanting freedoms so many of us take for granted.”

Following his death, Shekari came to be known among the Iranian social media users as an avid gamer, which drew a lot of reaction from the gaming community. David Jaffe, a video game designer best known for creating the God of War series, called his execution “Sad, pathetic, and heart breaking.” “ANYONE who stands up against the sort of 'leadership' they have in Iran is a hero in my book. Rest in Peace and Power, Mohsen Shekari. Hoping your bravery, strength, and activism serve as an inspiration for millions,” he tweeted. 

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