Iran votes to execute protesters, says rebels need ‘hard lesson’

iran protests death penalty
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After numerous calls for harsh punishments in recent days, the Iranian parliament on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly in favor of the death penalty for protesters.

Iran has been experiencing unprecedented levels of protests and civil unrest since the death by Mahsa Amini on September 16. The 22-year-old Kurdish woman was arrested by the country’s “morality police” for allegedly wearing an “inappropriate” form of hijab during a visit to Tehran and allegedly severely beaten while she was in custody. The beatings are believed to have led to her death from a fatal head injury, but Iranian authorities have denied the allegation.

In the wake of Amini’s death, there have been large-scale protests across the country the likes of which have not been seen in Iran for decades. The women protesters have notably taken to burn their hijabs and cutting their hair in public in defiance of the rules imposed by the Islamic government of Iran, under the leadership of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Iranian lawmakers have in recent days called for strict punishments for protesters who have been arrested. On Monday, CNN reported that a letter signed by 227 members of the Iranian parliament urged that the protesters receive a harsh punishment that “serves as a good lesson in the shortest possible time.”

Iran protests death penalty
Protesters in Tehran, Iran, in September 2022 following the death of Mahsa Amini. The Iranian parliament voted strongly in favor of imposing the death penalty on those accused in connection with the protests.
-/AFP via Getty Images

“Now, the public, even the protesters who do not support the riots, demand that the judicial and security institutions deal with the few people who have caused the riots in a firm, deterrent and legal manner,” said the Iranian government spokesman, Masoud Setayeshi, in a statement. according to Reuters.

On Tuesday, parliament did just that, voting to impose the death penalty on all protesters in custody as a “hard lesson” for all rebels. The majority in favor of the sanction was considerable, 227 of the 290 total deputies, equaling the number of legislators who signed the letter.

It is not clear when the executions will take place, but the task will be potentially significant. As of Thursday, CNN reported, some 14,000 people had been arrested in connection with the recent protests. On Tuesday, Karim Sadjadpour, a fellow at the Carnegie Endowment, said the number was closer to 15,000.

“In the past 8 weeks, Iran’s regime has killed over 300 protesters, imprisoned nearly 15,000 and threatened to execute hundreds more, but the women of Iran persist,” Sadjadpour wrote in a tweet. “Today, female college students took off their forced hijab and chanted: ‘I am a free woman.'”

Several prominent figures in Iran are calling for a response from foreign governments.

“Outrageous! After killing hundreds of protesters in the streets and a violent crackdown, 227 parliamentarians in Iran called the protesters “Mohareb” and called on the judiciary to issue “retribution” sentences. [execution]journalist Omid Memarian tweeted on Sunday. “The world should respond. Dangerous!”

In response to the parliament vote, activist and journalist Masih Alinejad tweeted: “227 members of Iran’s 290-seat Parliament have called on the judiciary to hand down death sentences for people arrested during the ongoing uprising. They want to execute innocent protesters who chanted Woman Life Liberty. The world must stop this act of terror.”

news week contacted the Iranian government for comment.

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