Dozens of Iranian activists began a hunger strike to protest against the death penalty

File photo of Iranian dissident Narges Mohammadi EPA/ABEDIN TAHERKENAREH (ABEDIN TAHERKENAREH/)

Dozens of Iranian activists announced this Thursday a hunger strike in protest of the recent wave of executions in their countryincluding that of a 23-year-old man hanged on Tuesday for the murder of a police officer during protests in 2022.

Detainees from Evin prison in Tehran and exiled activists stated that they would participate in this 24-hour protest movement. The action is led by Narges Mohammadi, Nobel Peace Prize 2023 and imprisoned in Iran for 25 years.

Last Tuesday he was executed Mohammad Ghobadlouconvicted of the murder of a police officer during the demonstrations unleashed by the death of Mahsa Amini in 2022.

Amini had been arrested for violating Iran’s strict dress code for women. Hundreds of people were killed and thousands arrested during what authorities called “riots” instigated from abroad.

Following Ghobadlou’s execution, the Instagram account of Narges Mohammadi, known for her fight against mandatory veiling for women and the death penalty, announced that 61 political prisoners detained in Evin were going on hunger strike.

“The imprisoned women will resist to keep alive the names of those who were executed and protect the lives of hundreds of people […] “who are waiting to be executed,” stated a publication from that account, managed by the activist’s family.

Iranian personalities such as the rapper Toomaj Salehi, the singer Mehdi Yarrahi and the activist Hosein Ronaghialso detained, announced that they would also go on hunger strike.

Activist Masih Alinejad, who lives in the United States, pointed out that “solidarity is beautiful, but if we do not act […] Others sentenced to death will be executed soon.”

On Wednesday, The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, acknowledged being “alarmed” by the “sharp increase” in the use of the death penalty in Iran.

File photo of three executed in the city of Qom, 120 kilometers from the capital Tehran, Iran.  EFE/STR
File photo of three executed in the city of Qom, 120 kilometers from the capital Tehran, Iran. EFE/STR (STR/)

According to Türk, Ghobadlu yesterday became the ninth person executed in relation to the massive protests in Iran, and some abroad, for the controversial death of Amini, the young Kurdish-Iranian woman who died in September 2022 in police custody after being arrested for wearing the veil incorrectly.

Along with Ghobadlu Farhad Slaimi was also executed, a Kurdish citizen who had spent the last fourteen years in prison. After these two cases, Executions in Iran so far this year rise to at least 54according to reports to which the head of Human Rights of the United Nations has alluded.

“The death penalty is not compatible with the most fundamental of rights: the right to life. This practice must be stopped immediately,” Türk said in a statement in which he urges Tehran to respect the right to due process and a fair trial for all defendants.

“I am also deeply disturbed by reports of forced confessions obtained under duress. “Such confessions should not be invoked as evidence in any trial,” Türk finally added, urging Iran to “enact an immediate moratorium on the use of the death penalty” with a view to “completely abolishing” this practice.

In this sense, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights celebrated that there is increasingly “more consensus” at the international level in favor of the abolition of capital punishment, since almost three quarters of the countries in the world have already abolished or introduced a moratorium on this practice. “I implore the Iranian authorities to follow their example,” Türk reiterated.

Several NGOs protested Ghobadlou’s execution, stressing that he suffered from mental disorders and that in February 2023 the Supreme Court had granted him a stay of execution.

The court then referred his case to a different jurisdiction to address issues about his mental health, and on Tuesday, the Supreme Court approved his death sentence, according to Iranian media.

(With information from AFP)