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Politics

When Iran Executes Innocent Protesters Blamed For Security Forces Deaths

December 10, 2022
Roghiyeh Rezaei
6 min read
This is not the first time the security apparatuses say that Basijis or plainclothes forces were killed during protests, and that protesting citizens are held responsible for these deaths.
This is not the first time the security apparatuses say that Basijis or plainclothes forces were killed during protests, and that protesting citizens are held responsible for these deaths.
Two courts sentenced Navid Afkari to death, 6 1/2 years in prison and 74 lashes over the killing of a security officer.
Two courts sentenced Navid Afkari to death, 6 1/2 years in prison and 74 lashes over the killing of a security officer.
Mohammed Salas Babajani, a 50-year-old Gonabadi dervish, was tried in court for the alleged murder of three police officers and sentenced to death three times.
Mohammed Salas Babajani, a 50-year-old Gonabadi dervish, was tried in court for the alleged murder of three police officers and sentenced to death three times.
Mostafa Salehi was executed in 2020 after being handed capital punishment for the death of a security agent.
Mostafa Salehi was executed in 2020 after being handed capital punishment for the death of a security agent.
The Ahvaz Human Rights Organization announced in June 2022 that Majed Amouri and another Arab activist named Ghadir Naseri were executed in Ahvaz.
The Ahvaz Human Rights Organization announced in June 2022 that Majed Amouri and another Arab activist named Ghadir Naseri were executed in Ahvaz.

Mohsen Shekhari, 23, was executed at dawn on December 8. The Iranian judiciary blamed him for setting fire to a trash can on Sattar Khan Street in western Tehran and for stabbing to death a member of the paramilitary Basij force.

At least 10 other protesters are in imminent danger of execution. Dozens of other people are on trial on charges that carry a death sentence.

A few days before Shekari’s execution, 16 people, including several children, were tried in a case related to the killing of another Basiji. Out of these 16 people, five were sentenced to death, including a radiologist named Dr. Hamid Gharahasanlou who was hospitalized due to injuries sustained during his arrest. The other defendants in the case were sentenced to long prison sentences. Several teenagers under the age of 18 and Farzaneh Gharahasanlou, Hamid's wife, were among them.

As this report shows, this is not the first time the security apparatuses say that Basijis or plainclothes forces were killed during protests, and that protesting citizens are held responsible for these deaths.

***

Navid Afkari

 The judiciary of the Islamic Republic claims protester Navid Afkari killed a security officer named Hassan Turkaman in 2018. Little information is available about Turkaman. State media published interviews with his father, who said his son was on his way back from work when he was attacked with a knife by an assailant on a motorcycle, and later died.

In September 2020, amid news that Afkari and his brothers had been tortured, media outlets close to the government announced that Turkaman was beaten in front of his house in Shah Daeiolah neighborhood at 7 p.m. on August 2, 2018. The court said CCTV footage showed Afkari was responsible for the killing, but it never agreed to publish or play the video clips in court.

In response to Afkari’s repeated requests to play the footage for him and the plaintiffs, the judge said, "I am the one who must be convinced and put the rope on your neck with a clear conscience". The audio recording of the court hearing was later published by the Iranian Human Rights Organization and revealed Afkari’s innocence.

Afkari, a wrestler from Shiraz, who was arrested in August 2018 along with his two brothers for participating in protests in the southern city. He was sentenced to death twice, 6 1/2 years in prison and 74 lashes, by two courts.

Despite a global campaign calling for his release, Afkari was executed in Shiraz’s Adelabad prison in September 2020.

Navid's brothers, who were sentenced to long prison terms, were put in solitary confinement after his execution. Habib Afkari was released in March 2022, while Vahid was remanded in solitary confinement.

Mohammad Salas Babajani

In the protests of members of the Gonabadi Dervish religious minority on February 19, 2018, which later became known as "Seventh Golestan Street" protests, police first said that three of their officers have been run over by a bus that a dervish was driving.

It was later announced that two members of the paramilitary Basij force were killed during clashes between protesters and security forces. No one was ever tried in relation to those two Basijis.

Mohammed Salas Babajani, a 50-year-old Gonabadi dervish who happened to be a bus driver, was tried in court for the alleged murder of three police officers and sentenced to death three times. Government-affiliated media quoted Babajani as saying that "anger and rage" made him lose control of himself. He reportedly said he was not afraid of death and demanded be executed soon.

However, Babajani claimed innocence in an audio file obtained by BBC Persian, saying he “was not the driver of that bus”. He also said his jailers beat him and broke one of his fingers to force him to admit guilt.

Salas was executed in Karaj’s Rajaei Shahr prison on the morning of June 18, 2019. The next day his lawyer Zainab Taheri was arrested after she announced on Twitter that she would publish evidence proving her client's innocence. Taheri was accused of "spreading lies, propagating against the regime, and disturbing public opinion".

The three agents said to have been killed by Babajani were identified as Sergeant Reza Emami, Sergeant Mohammed Ali Bayrami and Constable Reza Moradi.

Mostafa Salehi

 Sajad Shahsanaei was the name of the security guard said to have been shot dead by Mostafa Salehi, a man who attended January 2018 protests in the central city of Isfahan.

The father of two young children consistently rejected the accusations against him. The judge handling the case ignored his repeated demands for the recordings of security cameras be examined.

Salehi was executed in Isfahan’s Dastgerd prison on August 5, 2020. During the two years Salehi spent in death row, he insisted on his innocence.

Tasnim news agency, which is affiliated with the Islamic Republic Guards Corps (IRGC), in January 2018 quoted Shahsanaei's uncle as saying, "When the unrest reached its peak, Sajad and a group of friends went to the place of clashes to calm the situation. Unfortunately, a bullet was fired at him from the crowd and hit him directly in the head”.

The uncle also said the family were "happy" and "proud" to have sacrified one of their members in such a way. Such testimonies are very common among families close to the government.

Majed Amouri

Navid Haghitshenas is the name of the intelligence agent said to have been present during the arrest of Rasoul Amouri, the older brother of Majed Amouri, an Arab activist from Ahvaz.

The Judiciary of the Islamic Republic claimed that in 2018, Majed shot and killed Haghitshenas while he was clashing with officers in protest of his brother’s arrest.

The Ahvaz Human Rights Organization announced on June 7, 2022, that Majed and another Arab activist named Ghadir Naseri were executed in Ahvaz’s Sheyban prison.

The Ahvaz Human Rights Organization said Naseri allegedly killed two IRGC intelligence agents during his arrest at his home in the city of Mahshahr on June 20, 2016. He was aged 17 when he was arrested and was executed at the age of 23 after spending six years in prison.

The organization quoted the judiciary as claiming that two security force members named Mohammedreza Rafei-Nasab and Allah Nazar Safari were killed in an exchange of fire with Naseri. After that, a Revolutionary Court accused Naseri of murdering these two security agents and sentenced him to death.

Executions of political prisoners forced to take responsibility for the killing of members of the security forces have become increasingly common in recent years.

Human rights activists say this tactic is used to justify extra-judicial executions and reduce international pressure on the Islamic Republic of Iran. For this reason, the international community should pay more attention to the recent execution of Mohsen Shekari.

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