Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 6 August 2020

Iran must release protesters sentenced to death

They face death by hanging for spreading the truth and showing to the world the true face of the regime

An Iranian woman and her son wear protective face masks to guard against Covid-19. Courtesy: Wana
An Iranian woman and her son wear protective face masks to guard against Covid-19. Courtesy: Wana

After a series of mysterious explosions, renewed economic hardship and the toll of the coronavirus, the people of Iran face another sobering reality. On Tuesday, the Iranian Supreme Court upheld the death sentences of three men, all in their 20s, for taking part in last year's anti-government protests.

Due to be executed within days, Amirhossein Moradi, Mohammad Rajabi and Saeed Tamjidi are accused of filming the demonstrations and providing footage to international news agencies. According to Amnesty, their trial was unfair and the men said they were “subjected to torture through beatings, electric shocks and being hung upside down”. Now they face death by hanging for spreading the truth and showing to the world the true face of the regime.

The three have done nothing to deserve such harsh punishment. They are among thousands of Iranians who took to the streets to demonstrate against a sudden hike in fuel prices last November. The movement soon turned political, with protesters demanding the fall of a regime that has repressed its people for the past 40 years.

Instead of hearing the plea of Iranians, who demanded a right to liberty and better living conditions, the regime killed and tortured its people. According to Reuters, 1,500 were killed in two weeks as Iranian authorities quashed dissenting voices across the country. They also temporarily cut off the internet to hide their crimes from the eyes of the world.

The brutality of the crackdown has failed to silence Iranians. Many on social media have spoken out against the executions. On Tuesday evening, a hashtag that translates as "don't execute" was a top trend on Twitter in Iran and at number eight worldwide. The phrase was used more than 1.5 million times before another internet blackout engulfed Iran in the late hours of the night.

The men on death row and others like them who have dared to stand up to a repressive regime should be hailed for their courage, not doomed. Iran must release the protesters and refrain from causing them more harm. Instead of investigating and punishing ordinary people simply because they asked for a decent life in their own country, authorities should hold accountable those who violated the basic rights of their citizens.

The men face death by hanging for spreading the truth and showing to the world the true face of the regime

The people of Iran have endured decades of oppression. Even as economic sanctions on Tehran, meant to deter the regime, have increased, authorities have refused to cease their hostile approach to the west and to their Arab neighbours. Since the 1980s Tehran has funded armed proxies throughout the Middle East, destabilising entire countries and promoting chaos abroad. This strategy has diverted much-needed funds that could have been utilised to develop the economy and robbed Iranians of job opportunities.

In demanding a better life, the three men have done nothing wrong and must be released. The injustice they face is a reminder that if the international community does not take action the Iranian regime will continue to act with impunity, within its own borders and beyond.

Updated: July 15, 2020 05:09 PM

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