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Source: REF/RL

May 15, 2023

Families Of Three Iranian Detainees Lead Protests As Execution Fears Grow

Relatives and supporters of three detained Iranian protesters have rallied outside the prison in Isfahan where they are being held in a desperate bid to halt their possible executions.

Majid Kazemi, Saleh Mirhashemi, and Saeid Yaqoubi were implicated in an incident on November 16, 2022, during which two Basij paramilitary force members and a law enforcement officer were fatally shot in the central Iranian city of Isfahan.

The clash occurred at the height of widespread protests sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini last September while she was in police custody for allegedly breaking Islamic hijab rules.

Family and supporters of the trio on May 14 warned authorities of the Islamic republic that if the executions are carried out, unrest would grow. Late into the night they chanted slogans such as "This is the last message: If you execute, it will be the day of uprising."

Videos surfaced online showing Isfahan residents joining the protest with their vehicles, blasting their horns and creating roadblocks around the central prison in a show of solidarity with the detainees.Mohammad Hashemi, a cousin of Kazemi, said on Twitter that based on the information he had received, the three protesters could be executed as early as May 15.

As of evening on May 15, It was not clear whether the detainees had been executed.

The Daadban Legal Advisory Center has reported that the three have maintained their innocence despite forced confessions broadcast on the Islamic Republic Television.

Amnesty International issued a warning on May 12 that the three detainees face an "imminent risk of execution" following the Supreme Court's confirmation of their execution sentences.

It added that Kazemi, in an audio file sent from Isfahan Central Prison, had spoken of being subjected to torture and repeated violence since his arrest as authorities tried to extract forced confessions.Iran has seen a surge in executions in recent months, a trend that has drawn widespread domestic and international condemnation.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk on May 9 called the statistics "frightening" and demanded a halt to executions by the Islamic republic.

He said Iran has executed an average of 10 people per week this year.Human rights activists say authorities in Iran are using the executions to try to "instill fear" in society rather than to combat crime.

Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL's Radio Farda

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