Iran hanged two young men on Saturday, one a karate champion and the other a volunteer children’s coach. This brings the total number of people executed as a result of the protests since September to four.
Mohammad Mehdi Karami and Seyed Mohammad Hosseini were hanged early Saturday morning, state television Fars News reported. The couple, who took part in anti-regime protests last year, were convicted of killing Seyed Ruhollah Ajamian, a member of the country’s Basij paramilitary force, in Karaj on November 3, according to Iran’s judicial news agency Mizan.
Karami’s lawyer, Mohammad Hossein Aghasi, posted on Twitter on Saturday that Karami had not been given a final right to speak with his family before the execution. The lawyer added that Karami went on a dry food hunger strike on Wednesday to protest against officials who did not allow Aghasi to represent him.
According to statements by Iranian officials and Iranian media reports reviewed by CNN and 1500Tasvir, 41 more protesters have been sentenced to death in recent months, but the number could be much higher.
Karami, 21, was an Iranian-Kurdish karate champion with a tattoo of the Olympic rings on the inside of his arm. His cousin told CNN that Karami was a brave, intelligent boy who started karate at the age of 11. He joined Iran’s youth national team and later won national championships.
Last month, Karami’s parents posted a video on social media pleading with the state to spare his life. His father said: “My son is one of Iran’s karate champions, has several national titles and was the fourth member of Iran’s national team… I am asking you to cancel the execution order.”
Karami was sentenced on December 5, less than a week after his trial began in Tehran for the alleged killing of a paramilitary group. Amnesty described the trial as “unlike a meaningful trial”. His family claims he was tortured in prison and refused access to a lawyer.
Amnesty International published a quote from Karami’s father: “Every morning I go to court and prison, and then I walk the streets aimlessly. I went to the jail this morning, but the assistant prosecutor at the jail was not there. They told me that I have to stop going there if my case is related to the protests. They don’t give you any answer.
“Every night I fear that they will tell me about my child’s execution,” his father said. “I have lost hope… they have sentenced my child to death and they can execute him any minute.”
Seyyed Mohammad Hosseini, 20, was remembered as a volunteer with children by a German parliamentarian who advocated for his case.
“The story of #SeyedMohammadHosseini is so sad. He lost both parents. He visited their graves every Thursday. He coaches kids for free,” Ye-One Rhie wrote on Twitter.
According to Ye-One Rhie, Hosseini was arrested on his way to visit his parents’ graves. His brother was also taken and was not heard from again, the MP said.
According to Amnesty, Hosseini was sentenced at the same hearing as Karami and two other men who were also sentenced to death, Hamid Ghare-Hasalou and Hossein Mohammadi.
Amnesty says the conviction was based on coerced confessions.
“Prior to the start of the group trial, state media broadcast coerced ‘confessions’ of the accused and described them as ‘murderers’, in violation of their rights to the presumption of innocence and freedom from torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment,” Amnesty said. wrote
Meanwhile, Mehdi Beyk, political editor of the independent Iranian newspaper Etemad Online, was detained on Thursday, according to the publication’s Twitter account. Arrested by Iranian authorities following protests sparked last year by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after the state’s morality police arrested her for allegedly wearing an inappropriate hijab. The protests have since merged with a host of grievances against the authoritarian regime.
Beyk was detained by officials of Iran’s Ministry of Information, his wife Zahra Beyk said on Friday.
He was arrested after “interviewing the families of several individuals arrested during ongoing demonstrations,” according to pro-reform activist IranWire.
The reporter’s “cell phone, laptop and belongings were confiscated,” his wife tweeted. It is not yet clear why Beyk was arrested.
Iranian officials have previously arrested some individuals for criticizing the government’s response to the demonstrations.
One of Iran’s best-known actresses, Taraneh Alidoosti, was released on bail on Wednesday, state-run ISNA reported, after her arrest following criticism of the execution of a protester.
Alidoosti, who is known as a feminist activist, posted a photo of herself on Instagram last month without her Islamic hijab and a “Women, Life, Freedom” sign to show support for the protest movement.
Alidoosti has not been formally charged but was initially arrested due to a “lack of evidence against her charges” related to her protest against the hanging of Mohsen Shekari last month in the first known protest-related execution.