Is Iran’s increasing use of the death penalty causing declining protests?

The White House issued a statement earlier this week expressing their condemnation of the recent use of the death penalty and execution of protesters ordered by Iran and stated that the US supports other countries in demanding an immediate end to death sentences. Mohammad Mahdi Karami and Seyyed Mohammad Hosseini were executed by the Iranian authorities over the weekend, prompting widespread international condemnation. 

Videos posted online showed that a lot of Iranian protesters had gathered near a prison close to Tehran as two young protesters were about to face the death penalty. 

Jake Sullivan, the National Security Adviser, tweeted  “We condemn the executions of Mohammad Mehdi Karami & Mohammad Hosseini and the additional executions announced today. We join with partners around the world calling for an immediate cessation of these abuses. Iran will be held accountable.” 

He further stated that the US joins forces with other nations in calling for the end of these abuses. Mohammad Ghobadlou, 22, and Mohammad Boroughani, 19, are on death row in the Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj, not far from the Iranian capital. 

The Dutch government summoned the Iranian ambassador to the Netherlands for the second time in a month to voice its deep concerns over the execution of demonstrators. The European Union summoned Iran’s ambassador to the bloc on Monday as did the UK’s Foreign Secretary James Cleverly.  

Fourteen other protesters are at risk of execution having received the death sentence for participating in protests in Iran, as per Hadi Ghaemi of the Centre for Human Rights in Iran. Iranian footballer, Amir Nasr-Azadani who took part in protests against his nation’s oppressive regime has been jailed for 16 years after being spared the death penalty despite being sentenced to death in Iran in December.

Canada declared further sanctions against the regime for its “brutal suppression of courageous Iranian voices”, according to Foreign Minister Melanie Joly. 

Pope Francis censured Iran for using the death penalty against anti-regime protesters, saying it just “fuels the thirst for vengeance”. Britain’s Foreign Secretary James Cleverly called in Iran’s chief diplomat to rebuke his nation’s “abhorrent executions”. Amnesty International declared that Iran is only second to China in its use of the death penalty, with at least 314 people executed in 2021. 

Iran has faced almost daily protests since September 16 when Mahsa Amini was killed by the country’s morality police, but in recent days the momentum of the protesters appears to be slowing down. Iran’s public hanging of protesters appears to have convinced some, but not all protesters to refrain from taking to the streets. While this is what the Iranian authorities want, however, it is unlikely that the momentum of the protesters will completely stop. Instead, citizens are likely to become more covert and push dissent underground and online. 


Image Credit: Reuters | Wana News Agency