The Iranian regime’s execution of three protesters, despite numerous global pleas, has outraged Western governments and people around the world.
The Islamic Republic executed Majid Kazemi, Saeed Yaghoubi and Saleh Mirhashemi on Friday morning over trumped up charges after extracting forced confessions, in a case described as a travesty of justice. Human rights campaigners say they were tortured into confessions, and there was no reliable evidence against them.
Friday's executions brought to at least seven the number of protesters hanged since the beginning of the nationwide protests last September, which turned into one of the boldest challenges to the clerical rulers since the 1979 revolution.
The protests were ignited by Mahsa Amini's death in the custody of Iran's morality police.
In anticipation of their imminent execution, the three men on Wednesday appealed in a handwritten note for public support, saying, "Don't let them kill us".
"We need your help," said the note that went viral on social media, drawing local and international appeals to halt the executions, including from Washington.
Iranians are outraged and frustrated over the hangings; frustrated that their protest rallies outside the prison where they were held failed to halt the executions and outraged that calls by the international community did not stop the Islamic Republic from hanging people who protested against its injustice.
People in numerous neighborhoods in the capital Tehran as well as Esfahan (Isfahan) and several other cities across Iran poured out into the streets, chanting slogans against the regime and calling for its downfall.
In Tehran’s neighborhoods of Sattar Khan, Tehran Pars, Ekbatan and several others, as well as numerous neighborhoods in Esfahan and Kurdish majority cities of Mahabad and many others protests took place. There are unconfirmed reports of security forces clashing with the protesters.
Leading Iranian opposition figure exiled prince Reza Pahlavi said, “Despite the brave protests of our compatriots, the Islamic Republic has hanged three young protesters in Esfahan.”
“This murderous regime is emboldened by the West’s inaction. Those nations that claim to stand for human rights must recall their ambassadors from Tehran immediately. Iranian lives matter.”
Condemning the executions, a US State Department spokesperson said that Washington joins the Iranian people and their families in mourning the deaths of these three men.
“As we have said, it is clear from this episode that the regime has learned nothing from the protests that began in September of last year. It is no wonder so many young people in Iran are calling for change or leaving the country in droves.”
The US once again urged Iran's leadership to stop the killing, stop the sham trials, and respect people’s human rights, said the spokesperson, adding, “Sadly, we have no expectation that they will do so.”
"That is why we are continuing to work in close coordination with our allies and partners around the world to condemn and confront these appalling human rights abuses.”
Several protest gatherings were held outside the Islamic Republic’s embassies across the globe, including in Australia and Germany.
Alireza Akhondi, Swedish-Iranian member of the Swedish parliament, said that the Islamic Republic executed an average of two people per day in 2023. "But our response to these criminal monsters is persistence and courage to continue the struggle to achieve freedom." he added.
Centrist academic Sadegh Zibakalam in Tehran said Friday that “If they had not been executed, I don't think anyone would have attributed it to the system's weakness and fear of the opposition,” adding that “On the contrary, many people would consider it the regime’s respect and attention to public opinion.”
Also on Friday, the European Union condemned the hangings “in the strongest possible terms."
“The EU urges the Iranian authorities to refrain from applying the death penalty and carrying out future executions,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell’s office said in a statement.
Opposition activists say the death penalty was used against the three men as an intimidation tactic to stop further protests. Iranian expatriate communities called for demonstrations against the executions in cities worldwide on Saturday, May 20.
Nazanin Boniadi, a British actor and activist of Iranian origin, tweeted that the three men had been executed “after forced confessions and sham trials.”
So far, around 500 civilians have been killed by security forces and at least 20,000 arrested. While many have been released, around 1,500 face criminal charges, and at least 80 detainees face the death sentence.
Majid Kazemi, Saeed Yaghoubi and Saleh Mirhashemi