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Hanging of protestors in Iran condemned by IBAHRI
Protestors at a demonstration at Iranian embassy in Brussels, Belgium in September, following death of Mahsa Amini Pic: Shutterstock

16 Dec 2022 / global Print

Hanging of protestors in Iran condemned by IBAHRI

The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) has condemned the hanging of protestors Mohsen Shekari (8 December) and Majidreza Rahnavard (12 December) by the authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran following 'trials' that violated their due-process rights.

Both men were 23.

IBAHRI has condemned the use of the death penalty in all cases, and has called on Iran to halt any planned executions.

The IBAHRI has further called for an end to unfair trials.


Shekari and Rahnavard were executed in relation to nationwide demonstrations that began in September 2022 following the death, while in police custody, of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by Iran’s so-called ‘morality police’ for infringing rules relating to how she wore her headscarf.

At least 27 other people connected with the protests are facing execution in Iran.

The protests have grown in scope, amid anger over increasing violence and discrimination against women, police brutality, deteriorating civil and political rights, and economic hardships.

Iran’s judiciary has announced that at least ten other people have been sentenced to death on charges of ‘enmity against God’ or ‘corruption on Earth’.

On 20 November, Iranian authorities convicted Shekari of the broad and vague charge of ‘enmity against God’ in relation to accusations of “blocking a street in Tehran, creating fear, and depriving people of freedom and security, and intentionally wounding a security agent”.

An appeal from Shekari’s lawyer failed, and the death sentence ruling against him was upheld by Iran’s Supreme Court.

Prior to his death, Shekari’s right to a fair trial was severely violated, with reports stating that he was tortured into a forced confession and denied access to his lawyer throughout proceedings.

Rahnavard’s conviction followed a similar pattern, with a charge of ‘enmity against God’ following accusations that he had fatally stabbed two members of Iran’s paramilitary Basij Resistance Force.

Public hanging

His public hanging from a construction crane was carried out just 23 days after his arrest.

IBAHRI’s Mark Stephens commented: “The death penalty has long been used as a tool of political suppression during demonstrations against Iran’s regime, from the 1988 mass executions to the 2019 anti-government protests. 

“The lack of separation of powers and judicial independence has sustained the vicious cycle of politicised executions against perceived enemies of the state with impunity. The imposition of the death penalty seeks not only to silence those with dissenting voices, but to deny their existence entirely.

“The rushed nature of Mr Shekari's and Mr Rahnavard's trials, and lack of due process, is intended to instil fear in other young protestors, and prevent them from taking to the streets and demanding their rights. The international community must do all that it can to put an end to any further executions in Iran.”

Reports indicate that more than 430 human-rights defenders, including at least 22 lawyers, have been arrested in Iran.

Abusing powers

Lawyers who undertake cases involving human-rights defenders are often threatened and eventually imprisoned for carrying out their professional duties. In addition, IBAHRI says that judges in Iran are regarded as routinely abusing their legal powers in ‘security-related’ trials such as those involving human-rights, political, or civil activists.

In a joint statement on 1 December, the IBAHRI and several other bar associations and lawyers’ organisations called on Iranian authorities to immediately release all lawyers arrested for any action taken in accordance with their professional duties, preserve the independence of the legal profession, accord those accused with the right to a fair trial, and uphold the rule of law in the country.

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