| 24 February 2024, Saturday |

Iran carries out second execution linked to wave of popular protests

The Islamic Republic hanged a man in the open on Monday after he was found guilty of killing two security forces personnel, official television reported. This was the second protester executed in less than a week.

Three months ago, Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman detained by morality police enforcing Islamic Republic’s mandatory dress code rules, passed away while in custody, sparking nationwide anger.

The demonstrations have turned into a popular revolt by furious Iranians from all layers of society, posing one of the worst legitimacy challenges to the Shi’ite clerical elite since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

“Majid Reza Rahnavard was hanged in public in (the holy Shi’ite city of) Mashhad this morning … He was sentenced to death for ‘waging war against God’ after stabbing to death two members of the security forces,” the judiciary’s Mizan news agency reported.

Mizan published pictures of the execution at dawn, showing Rahnavard hanging from a construction crane, with his hands and feet bound and his head covered with a black bag.

The semi-official Fars news agency said Rahnavard killed two members of the Basij volunteer force and wounded four others. The Basij force, affiliated with the elite Revolutionary Guards, has been at the forefront of the state crackdown on protests.

Calling for added protests across the country, activists on social media criticised the execution of the 23-year-old Rahnavard as “a criminal act” by the clerical rulers to deter dissent.

On Thursday, Iran hanged Mohsen Shekari, who had been convicted of injuring a security guard with a knife and blocking a street in Tehran, the first such execution after thousands of arrests over the unrest, drawing a chorus of Western condemnation and sanctions.

According to rights organizations, Shekari was tortured and made to confess. According to Molavi Abdolhamid’s website, Shekari’s death sentence breached sharia (Islamic law), a controversial Sunni Muslim cleric in the Shi’ite-ruled Islamic Republic.

State media released a video showing a guy they identified as Rahnavard attacking a man who slid into a parked motorcycle, stabbing someone else right away, and then escaping.

Rahnavard claimed in court that he developed a hatred for the Basij forces after witnessing their abuse and murder of protesters in videos shared on social media, according to a video that was aired on state television. According to activists, he was tortured into making a confession.

  • Reuters