Iran defies US over executions, putting three democracy protesters to death
JERUSALEM—The Islamic Republic of Iran continued its killing spree of protesters seeking to create a democracy despite a plea on Friday from the Biden administration to “not carry out these executions.”
The Iranian-regime controlled Mizan News Agency, which is affiliated with the country’s opaque judiciary, reported that Saleh Mirehashemi, Majid Kazemi and Saeed Yaqoubi were executed on May 19 in a prison the city of Isfahan.
The Norway-based Iran Human Rights group said that there had been at least 90 executions in the last 18 days, marking May as the “bloodiest month” in the nation over the last five years.
“What we’re witnessing in Iran are not executions, but extrajudicial mass killings to create societal fear to maintain power,” Iran Human Rights Director Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam said.
Vedant Patel, the principal deputy spokesperson for the U.S. State Department, said ahead of the executions, “We join the people of Iran and the international community in calling on Iran to not carry out these executions. The execution of these men – after what have been widely regarded as sham trials – would be an affront to human rights and basic dignity in Iran and everywhere.”
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He added, “It is clear from this episode that the Iranian regime has learned nothing from the protests that began with another death, the death of Mahsa Amini in September of last year. We once again urge Iran’s leadership to stop the killing, stop the sham trials, and respect people’s human rights. 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.”
The clerical regime reportedly tortured and murdered Amini in Tehran because she did not comply with the country’s Islamic dress code requiring that she cover her hair with a hijab. Amini’s murder sparked waves of revolts across the country against the regime, with calls for the abolition of the Islamic Republic.
Iran’s regime charged the three men with “waging war against God,” a crime that is frequently applied against political activists and dissidents.
During the alleged forced confessions of the men on Iran state television, the men rejected the charge of murder.
The theocratic state implicated the men in a November 2022 incident, in which two Basij paramilitary force members and a law enforcement officer were fatally shot in Isfahan. The Basij is a subsidiary force of the U.S.-sanctioned terrorist entity Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, and the paramilitary movement is also proscribed as a terrorist entity by the U.S.
According to Radio Farda, which reports on Iran, family members and supporters of the trio engaged in protests in front of Isfahan’s prison. Iranian security forces imposed violence on the demonstrators.
The three men issued a handwritten letter on May 18 that was covertly released and published on social media, declaring, “Don’t let them kill us. We need your help.”
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A total of seven protesters, including the three men, have been executed by the regime since the outbreak of nationwide protests in September. According to the London-based human rights organization Amnesty International, executions in the highly repressive state ballooned from 314 in 2021 to 576 in 2022.
When asked at Thursday’s State Department briefing whether the U.S. expects its allies and partners to condemn the executions in Isfahan, Patel said, “I’m not going to speak for our allies and partners. . . . But when it comes to confronting the challenge of the Iranian regime and its egregious human rights abuses, its continued support for Russia in the war in Ukraine, its provision of arms to proxies in the Middle East, there is convergence between the United States and our allies and partners in confronting the challenge faced by the Iranian regime.”
However, German MP Norbert Rottgen, from the conservative Christian Democratic Union Party, tweeted, “No one knows if they could have been saved, but Germany & the EU don’t even try. [German Foreign Minister Anna] Baerbock must finally look and find words for the horror that is taking place in Iran. Silence is not politics!”
Fox News Digital reached out to a diverse group of Iranian experts in the United Kingdom, the U.S. and Germany for comments on the executions.
Kazem Moussavi, a German-Iranian dissident and spokesman for the Green Party of Iran in exile, told Fox News Digital that the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, and its President, Ebrahim Raisi, should be included on the European Union terror list. The U.S. sanctioned Raisi for his role in two massacres of Iranians in 1988 and 2019.
Moussavi took Martin Horn, the mayor of the German southwestern city of Freiburg, to task for his adherence to a twin city partnership with Isfahan and refusal to permanently end the relations with Iran’s regime in Isfahan. Moussavi said, “I urged Mr. Martin Horn on social media on January 1, 2023, for the release of the three people arrested during the protests for ‘Women, Life, Freedom’ in the Khane-Isfahan district by the mullahs’ judiciary and the Isfahan city administration to demand. He refused to help, including trying to sponsor jailed protesters, and now three innocent people were hanged in Isfahan prison on Friday.”
Moussavi noted that “after the executions, opponents of the regime chanted ‘Death to the dictator’ in many residential areas of Isfahan and ‘Death to Khamenei.”’
Isfahan is a major center of for the Islamic Republic’s reported construction of its nuclear weapons program and a hub for missile production.
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Moussavi and the Iranian dissident, Sheina Vojoudi, an associate fellow for the Gold Institute for International Strategy, played a key role in securing the temporary suspension of the Freiburg-Isfahan partnership. Freiburg is located in the German state of Baden-Württemberg, whose commissioner, Michael Blume, who is tasked with fighting antisemitism, has lashed out at Vojoudi and other Iranian dissidents who seek to the end the widespread human rights abuses of the Islamic Republic.
Vojoudi said, “Blume called people like me ‘corrupt exiled nationalists’ after I showed him the leaked footage of Evin prison and told him [that] only criticism won’t help us and as a ‘defender of the human rights he should do more.”
She continued, “But, in response, he insulted and discriminated against Iranians in exile. He called us corrupt, but the rulers of their twin city [partnership], the officials of the Islamic Republic, are the most corrupt people on earth.”
Fox News reported last year on calls for Blume to resign due to his alleged antisemitism.
Potkin Azarmehr, a British-Iranian expert on the theocratic regime, told Fox News Digital, “They can execute and kill freedom fighters, but they will not be able to kill a nation who yearns for freedom.”
Marjan Keypour Greenblatt, an Iranian-American who is the director of the Alliance for Rights of All Minorities in the U.S., told Fox News Digital the “Iranian government does not play by any rules. It’s a rogue and defiant regime that takes the lives of its citizens to buy time for its own survival.”
She continued, “The problem with executions is more complicated than the case of these three individuals. The Isfahan cases are three that are increasingly publicized and brought forth by the international community. But what’s beneath the surface of these hashtag campaigns are the cases that remain under the radar.”
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She added, “In the past few days, while activists were just becoming aware of the cases in Isfahan, at least 12 other prisoners were executed. Most of them remained unknown and undefended.”
Alireza Nader, the engagement director for the U.S.-based National Union for a Democratic Iran (NUFDI), told Fox News Digital, “The latest executions in Isfahan show that the regime in Iran continues to try to terrorize the rebellious population into submission. The entire world, especially the U.S. and Europe, should hold the regime accountable and pressure it by ending all economic and diplomatic engagement while offering maximum support to the people of Iran.”