January 11, 2023 | Flash Brief

Iran Hangs Two Protesters While 109 Face Prospect of Execution

January 11, 2023 | Flash Brief

Iran Hangs Two Protesters While 109 Face Prospect of Execution

Latest Developments

Executions in Iran — and threats of further regime bloodshed — persist. In the wake of Tehran’s hanging on Saturday of two Iranian protesters, 22-year-old Mohammad Mehdi Karami and 39-year-old Sayed Mohammad Hosseini, “at least 109 protesters are currently at risk of execution, death penalty charges or sentences,” the Norway-based non-profit Iran Human Rights reported. Two men in particular — 19-year-old Mohammad Boroughani and 22-year-old Mohammad Ghobadiou — reportedly face imminent execution, prompting protests this week outside their prison. Since nationwide demonstrations began in September 2022, Iranian security forces have killed some 500 protesters, including dozens of women and children.

Expert Analysis

“My own experience as a political prisoner with the Islamic Republic’s judiciary, Judge Abolghassem Salavati in particular, taught me that in political and security cases the judiciary works as an agent of the regime’s intelligence organizations. It does not seek truth; it only follows orders. As a result, outside pressure on the regime is one of the few viable options to slow down the judiciary’s killing machine in the coming weeks and months.” Saeed Ghasseminejad, FDD Senior Iran and Financial Economics Advisor

Unjust Executions

Saturday’s executions reportedly occurred on the basis of coerced confessions after brief trials devoid of due process. The judiciary refused to allow the defendants to choose their own independent counsel, instead appointing lawyers tied to the regime. The Center for Human Rights in Iran, a New York-based non-profit, reported on Tuesday that Tehran has arrested at least 44 defense attorneys since September.

International Outcry

United Nations human rights chief Volker Türk said on Tuesday that the “weaponization of criminal procedures to punish people for exercising their basic rights — such as those participating in or organizing demonstrations — amounts to state sanctioned killing.” Meanwhile, key European governments, including France and Germany, say they are considering designating Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization. Paris also stated on Tuesday that the European Union has not ruled out the idea. The United Kingdom will reportedly announce its own designation of the IRGC in the coming weeks. The United States designated the IRGC as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in 2019.

Supreme Leader Khamenei Blames the West for Protests

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, shows little sign of heeding protesters’ demands. On the contrary, he has lambasted the demonstrations as a foreign conspiracy aimed at weakening the Islamic Republic. “The most important tool that the enemy used in these riots was propaganda and the enticement of people through cyberspace and the Western, Arabic and Hebrew media,” Khamenei said in a speech on Monday.

The supreme leader has expressed similar sentiments in the past. The protests “were designed by America, the fake Zionist regime, those who are on their payroll and some traitorous Iranians abroad who helped them. Their main problem is with a strong and independent Iran and the progress of the country,” said Khamenei in October 2022.

Related Analysis

Strategy for a New Comprehensive U.S. Policy on Iran,” edited by Mark Dubowitz and Orde Kittrie

‘Adopt’ an Iranian Political Prisoner to Save a Life,” by Toby Dershowitz and Saeed Ghasseminejad

Mapping the Protests in Iran,” edited by Mark Dubowitz


Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran Human Rights