Sunni Kurdish cleric Mohammad Khezrnejad

Iranian Sunni Kurdish Cleric Sentenced To Death As Executions Soar

Sunday, 02/11/2024

A revolutionary court in Urmia has sentenced Sunni Kurdish cleric Mohammad Khezrnejad to death on charges of "corruption on earth."

The 45-year-old cleric from Bukan in West Azarbaijan Province, also received a 15-year prison sentence on charges of "causing harm to the integrity or independence of the country," along with an additional one-year imprisonment on charges of "propaganda against the system."

Khezrnejad's most recent court session occurred in November via video conference, without the presence of a lawyer. Khezrnejad was arrested on November 19 after delivering a speech at a commemorative event for Asad Rahimi, a victim of the Women, Life, Freedom protests in Bukan.

Following his arrest, a coalition of religious scholars and Friday prayer leaders in Sanandaj and Dehgolan, in Kordestan province, demanded the immediate release of all protest detainees, including Khezrnejad. They cautioned the government against issuing death sentences for protesters.

With the inception of the Women, Life, Freedom protests, sparked by the death in morality-police custody of Mahsa Amini, Sunni clerics experienced heightened pressure, encountering threats, detentions, and the imposition and execution of security verdicts.

The US-based Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) recently reported that Iranian courts handed down 35 death sentences in January, marking the highest number of such penalties issued within a single month in over a year. Additionally, 86 individuals were executed across the country during the same month.

Among them was Kurdish Sunni cleric Farhad Salimi, executed on January 23 after serving a 14-year prison term in Ghezelhesar prison in Karaj.

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