May 29, 2023

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Large crowd gathers to watch rare public execution in Iran condemned as ‘medieval’ by activists

Iran reportedly executed a man over corruption and prostitution charges on Thursday as large crowds gathered to witness the “rare” public execution dubbed as “medieval” by activists.

Mahmoud Nemati, the public prosecutor of the north-western city of Maragheh in Iran, said that the man engaged in “illicit relationships with women and girls, documenting their activities through filmed material”, according to local media.

The man was identified as Amir Mahdi, according to Fars news agency.

Mahdi was apprehended in 2016 and the Maragheh Revolutionary Court sentenced him to death on charges of “corruption on Earth” – a sentence, that IranWire reported, was later upheld by the Supreme Court.

On Thursday, Iranian news websites posted pictures that showed throngs of people gathered to watch the execution in East Azerbaijan province in Iran.

Mahdi was seen blindfolded next to two executioners wearing balaclavas to cover their faces.

“The international community cannot endorse such medieval practices,” Norway-based Iran Human Rights (IHR) director Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam said. He added that the execution shows the “true face of a government that tries to prolong its life with cruelty, humiliation and intimidation of society”.

Human rights activists in the country said that at least seven people were executed in Iran on 25 May on drug and murder-related charges.

According to Amnesty International, public executions like Mahdi’s are rare in Iran even though more people are executed there than in any other nation other than China. In the last month, executions in Iran surpassed 110.

Observers point out that Iran is currently witnessing a surge in executions as the regime wants to instil an atmosphere of fear among people, especially after massive protests rocked the regime since last year. Hundreds have been arrested since the anti-regime protests in September after Mahsa Amini’s death in police custody.

A week ago, Amnesty International, responding to the execution of three protestors, said in a statement: “Governments must urgently denounce these executions, in the strongest possible terms, through public statements and demarches. However, in the face of the Iranian authorities’ unrelenting use of the death penalty, this is not enough. People in Iran don’t have the luxury of time – they are being arbitrarily deprived of their lives at a horrific rate under the guise of judicial executions.”

“We urge all states to exercise universal jurisdiction over all Iranian officials against whom there is sufficient admissible evidence of criminal responsibility for torture and other crimes under international law.

“The Iranian authorities must understand, in no uncertain terms, that the world will not simply stand by as they intensify their use of the death penalty as a tool of political repression,” the Amnesty statement said.

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