Mohsen Shekari, a 23-year-old man, has been executed in Iran.
It’s the first known execution in connection with the widespread protests following the death of 22-year-old woman Mahsa (Zhina) Amini.
International leaders and human rights organisations have condemned the execution and there are fears further executions may be carried out.
Protests erupted in Iran after Amini died following her arrest by the regime’s ‘morality police’, who enforce strict cultural laws including a law requiring women to cover their hair. Using the slogan ‘Woman, Life, Freedom’, the protesters are demanding an end to restrictive laws and want to overthrow the Government.
It’s estimated thousands of protesters have been arrested and there have been fears of possible executions. UN human rights chief Volker Türk says executions had been increasing in frequency in Iran before the protests.
Mohsen Shekari was accused of rioting and wounding an official with a machete. He was convicted of the crime of “war against God”. Iranian state media says he appealed his sentence but it was upheld by the country’s Supreme Court.
Norway-based human rights organisation Iran Human Rights says the trial was “hasty and unfair” and that Shekari was denied a lawyer.
A ‘confession’ was broadcast on Iranian TV in which Shekari appeared visibly injured.
Diana Eltahawy, a Deputy Director at human rights organisation Amnesty International, called it a “grossly unfair sham trial.”
“The authorities are resorting to the death penalty as a weapon of political repression,” Eltahawy said. “The clear aim is to instil fear among the public in a desperate attempt to cling to power and end the popular uprising.”
Amnesty International believes “at least 18 others” are at risk of the death penalty. Iran Human Rights says at least 11 people have actually been sentenced to death.
Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, the Director of Iran Human Rights, warned of “mass execution of protesters” unless Shekari’s execution is met “with serious consequences” from the international community.
International leaders have issued statements condemning the reports, including Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong, who described the news as “deeply disturbing” and called on Iran to “immediately halt executions”.