Majidreza Rahnavard is the second protester to be executed in Iran during the uprising


Iran publicly executed a protester in the northeastern city of Mashhad on Monday, a chilling warning for those still taking part in the anti-government demonstrations that have swept the country for nearly three months.

Majid Reza Rahnavard, 23, was hung from a construction crane. A video of the execution, circulating on social media, shows his hanged body, dressed in white and with his hands tied behind his back, slowly spinning in the dawn darkness as a crowd gathers around him.

Rahnavard was convicted of fatally stabbing two members of the Iranian security forces on November 17, according to Mizan, the official news site of the judiciary. The site published a photo of men in black ski masks at the execution site.

Rahnavard is the second protester to be executed in the past week and the first to have his body put on public display as the government tries to quell a national uprising that is challenging its rule. Mohsen Shekari, accused of injuring a member of the security forces, was executed on Thursday.

The protests, which began in mid-September after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in “moral police” custody, have grown into a broad movement uniting opponents of clerical rule across class and ethnic lines.

The Iranian regime is at an impasse as the protest movement resists the crackdown

Activist news agency HRANA estimates nearly 500 civilians have been killed and about 18,000 arrested in the unrest, but reporting limitations make exact numbers difficult to verify. At least 16 people have been sentenced to death for their role in the protests, according to the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran.

Josep Borrell, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, said Monday that the European Union would approve a new round of sanctions against Iran.

“Iran must understand that the European Union will strongly condemn the death penalty and will do everything we can to support Iranian women, support peaceful protesters and of course oppose the death penalty,” Borrell said.

Video from Rahnavard’s grave shows a handful of women wailing, one of whom says to his executioners, “May God curse you.”

Rahnavard’s family was not informed of his impending execution, after 1500 tasvirs, an anti-government group that monitors the demonstrations. His mother recently visited him in prison and she “left smiling and hoping that her son would be released soon,” the group wrote in an online post.

Political prisoners like Rahnavard are typically tried in Revolutionary Courts, a parallel legal system aimed against the accused. During his trial, Rahnavard confessed to the stabbings and prosecutors showed video of the alleged incident.

But such trials are often based on fabricated evidence, and defendants are often tortured or coerced into confessions and incriminating testimonies, as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have repeatedly documented.

“The public execution of a young protester 23 days after his arrest is another serious crime by the leaders of the Islamic Republic and a significant escalation of violence against protesters,” said Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, director of the Oslo-based organization Iranian Human Rights. “Majidreza Rahnavard was sentenced to death on the basis of coerced confessions after a grossly unfair trial and a show trial.”

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