May 3, 2024 | Flash Brief

Executions Surge in Iran as Protests Persist

May 3, 2024 | Flash Brief

Executions Surge in Iran as Protests Persist

Latest Developments

Executions in Iran are surging. The Islamic Republic executed 63 people in the last two weeks of April, bringing the total number in 2024 to 175, the Norway-based nonprofit Iran Human Rights (IHR) reported on May 2. Meanwhile, protests in Iran persist: At least 280 demonstrations occurred in April alone. These developments come in the wake of a renewed regime enforcement of mandatory headscarf laws, resulting in numerous arrests and beatings of women who fail to comply with them.

Expert Analysis

“Iran’s rulers threaten and incite genocide against Israelis, utilize Palestinians and other Arabs as sacrificial pawns, and grossly violate the most basic human rights of their own subjects. Yet on what American campus are there today demonstrations against these oppressors?” — Clifford D. May, FDD Founder and President

“Two factors drive the surge in repression and executions by the regime. Domestically, the regime is increasingly despised by an expanding segment of society and must rely on overt violence to terrorize the population. Internationally, Washington and Brussels’ policy of maximum deference toward the regime’s oppression at home and aggression abroad has emboldened Khamenei to escalate his campaign of violence to new levels without fearing serious and painful repercussions from the international community.” — Saeed Ghasseminejad, FDD Senior Iran and Financial Economics Advisor

Rise in Executions

In 2023, Iran executed at least 834 people, according to IHR. Tehran also executed 333 people in 2021 as well as 582 people in 2022. These figures do not include the hundreds of protestors killed by Iranian security forces since nationwide demonstrations began in September 2022. Iran has consistently ranked only behind China in the number of total executions it conducts each year.

“In 2023, the Islamic Republic authorities not only intensified the use of the death penalty, but also expanded the scope of charges for which the death penalty was implemented,” IHR reported. “For the first time in 10 years, the Islamic Republic executed two men for blasphemy and one man for adultery charges. In addition, two dual-nationals were hanged. One of them, the Swedish citizen Habib Asyoud, had been kidnapped by regime agents in Turkey and forcibly transferred to Iran before his sham trial and execution.”

Protests Endure

While protests in Iran have largely faded from Western headlines, they continue to unfold throughout the country. According to an FDD tracker, at least 878 demonstrations have occurred in 2024 to date. Since September 2022, at least 6,399 demonstrations have occurred. The regime has frequently responded with force, killing hundreds of Iranians. In March 2024, the United Nations released a report stating that Iran’s repression of protests may constitute crimes against humanity.

Religious Freedom Violations

In its annual report released on May 1, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) alleged that “religious freedom conditions in Iran remained extremely poor” in 2023. In particular, Tehran persecuted Bahais, Christians, and Sunni Muslims, among other religious minorities. “Officials systematically harassed, arrested, detained, sexually assaulted, raped, and tortured protesters, including minors,” the report said. The report called on the U.S. government to impose sanctions on agencies and officials responsible for religious freedom violations.

Mapping Protests in Iran,” by Mark Dubowitz

Iran Sentences Popular Rapper to Death Amid Widening Crackdown on Dissent,” FDD Flash Brief

Iran Executes Four Men Falsely Accused of Mossad Ties,” FDD Flash Brief

Iran’s Judiciary Poised to Gouge Out Eye of Protestor as Executions Surge,” FDD Flash Brief


Iran Iran Human Rights