Security force have used violence to disperse hundreds of Iranians who had gathered around a prison in the central city of Isfahan overnight in an attempt to prevent the imminent execution of three protesters.
The families of the three inmates on death row -- Majid Kazemi, Saleh Mirhashemi and Saeed Yaghoubi -- gathered outside Dastgerd prison on May 14 and asked for supporters to join them. Kazemi's cousin, Mohammad Hashemi, tweeted that the trio was expected to be executed on May 15.
A riot squad fired tear gas at the protesters, but rallies in the city continued until 3 a.m. on May 15, with many demonstrators honking their cars.
On May 12, Amnesty International expressed grave concern that Kazemi, Mirhashemi and Yaghoubi are at imminent risk of execution after the Supreme Court upheld their "unjust" convictions and death sentences earlier this month.
🎥 در پی انتشار خبرها درباره احتمال اجرای حکم اعدام سعید یعقوبی، صالح میرهاشمی و مجید کاظمی، شهروندان اصفهانی با هدف جلوگیری از این اعدام در مقابل زندان دستگرد اصفهان تجمع کرده اند. براساس گزارش ها، نیروهای حکومتی به سوی مردم گاز اشک آور شلیک کرده اند.#اعتراضات_سراسری… pic.twitter.com/xeL7A6Cczy— ایران وایر (@iranwire) May 14, 2023
Mirhashemi was twice sentenced to death, while Kazemi and Yaghoubi were handed capital punishment and a 10-year prison sentence in relation to the death of three members of the paramilitary Basij force during protests in Isfahan on November 15, 2022.
The Dadban Legal Group, which provides legal advice to protesters in Iran, said there was no reliable evidence proving the accusations made against the defendants, and that the only document available in the case was their "forced confessions."
The defendants were present at the scene of the protests but none of them has ever admitted shooting at Basij members, according to the group.
نیروهای سرکوب حکومت جمهوری اسلامی به سوی تجمعکنندگان در خیابان های اطراف زندان دستگرد #اصفهان گاز اشکآور شلیک کردند. ۲۵ اردیبهشت#مهسا_امینی #اعتراضات_سراسری pic.twitter.com/SlUMD3oqZp— ایران وایر (@iranwire) May 15, 2023
Iranian authorities have cracked down hard on widespread anti-government protests triggered by the September death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody.
More than 520 people were killed by security forces during demonstrations and over 20,000 people were unlawfully detained, activists say. Following biased trials, the judiciary has handed down stiff sentences, including the death penalty, to protesters.
Human rights groups have denounced the Islamic Republic's escalation of executions in recent weeks and accused the authorities of using the death penalty as a means to intimidate Iranians.