In the wake of the death of Mahsa Amini and amid nationwide protests, the Iranian parliament overwhelmingly approved the death penalty for protesters they label “rioters.” The first execution happened on Sunday.

At the same time, Iranian authorities have denied claims by rights groups abroad that about 15,000 people are now detained in the ensuing civil unrest and potentially face execution themselves.

According to the BBC, a “Revolutionary Court in Tehran found the now-deceased defendant, who was not named, had set fire to a government facility and was guilty of ‘enmity against God.’”

The draconian ruling comes in response to the mass demonstrators which have flooded Iranian streets in the weeks following the September 16 death of Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman who was arrested by Iran’s morality police and accused of improperly wearing a hijab, or headscarf, while visiting the country.

Nasibe Samsaei, an Iranian woman living in Turkey, cuts her ponytail off during a protest outside the Iranian consulate in Istanbul on Sept. 21 following the death of an Iranian woman after her arrest by the country’s morality police in Tehran.

The accused was sentenced in a Tehran court to death for the crime of “setting fire to a government building, disturbing public order, assembly and conspiracy to commit a crime against national security, and an enemy of God and corruption on earth,” one of the most serious offenses under Iranian law, Mizan Online reported.

Another court in Tehran sentenced five others to prison terms of between five to 10 years for “gathering and conspiring to commit crimes against national security and disturbing public order.”

Death sentences have been issued for many who protested Iran’s treatment of women, including well-known rapper Saman Yasin.

Despite their government not only arresting, but sentencing its citizenry to death, thousands of Iranians protested on Friday to mark a Sept. 30 crackdown by security forces known as “Bloody Friday” as the country’s clerical rulers battled persistent nationwide unrest. Amnesty International said that, on Sept. 30, security forces unlawfully killed at least 66 people, including children after firing live ammunition, metal pellets and tear gas at protesters in Zahedan, the capital of flashpoint Sistan-Baluchestan province.

Protesters took to the streets on Friday to mark the massacre, with videos online showing men emerging from mosques in Zahedan, chanting “Death to Khamenei,” referring to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Reuters reported.

Iranian security forces have killed at least 326 people in a crackdown on nationwide protests since Mahsa Amini’s death in custody, Iran Human Rights said in an updated toll Saturday.

According to The Times of Israel, more than 2,000 people had already been charged, nearly half of them in the capital Tehran, since the demonstrations began in mid-September.

They face accusations including “incitement to killing,” “harming security forces,” “propaganda against the regime” and “damaging public property,” the website said, adding that their trials would begin “from Thursday in the presence of their lawyers.”

“The Iranian parliament is so disconnected from its people that it would rather kill them instead of hearing their legitimate concerns,” Vahid Razavi, an Iran-born American technology activist, told Common Dreams Sunday.

Demonstrators in Berlin hold up placards with images of Mahsa Amini in Berlin. 

The Western World unites against Iran’s crackdown and brutality

Iran Human Rights director Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam called on the international community to act as soon as possible to halt the crackdown. “Establishing an international investigation and accountability mechanism by the UN will both facilitate the process of holding the perpetrators accountable in the future and increase the cost of the continuous repression by the Islamic republic,” he said in the statement.

The UN’s Human Rights Council will hold a special session on the issue in two weeks time following a diplomatic request by Germany and Iceland.

The first high-level western official to meet with an Iranian activist was Vice President Kamala Harris who in her meeting with Iran-born actress and activist Nazanin Boniadi October 14 underscored that the Biden-Harris Administration would continue to stand with Iranian women and citizens.

Two weeks later, on October 29, Canadian Prime Minister Justine Trudeau became the first world leader to join Iranians at a demonstration in Ottawa.

French president Emmanuel Macron has recently met with four prominent Iranian dissidents, all of them women.

President Joe Biden expressed solidarity with protesters when he said at a recent campaign event that “we’re going to free Iran,” a White House spokesman noted.

“He was expressing, again, our solidarity with them,” said John Kirby, the communications coordinator at the National Security Council. He said Iran’s leadership is “facing problems of their own making.”

“The president’s been pretty clear about this … we’re going to continue to look for ways to hold the regime accountable for the way that they’re treating their own people,” he said.

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