Iran hanged a man in public on Monday who had been convicted of killing two members of security forces, the judiciary’s Mizan news agency reported, the second execution linked to anti-government protests in less than a week.
Nationwide protests, in their third month, erupted after the death of 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman Mahsa Amini on Sept. 16 while in the custody of morality police enforcing strict mandatory dress code laws.
The demonstrations have turned into a popular revolt by furious Iranians from all layers of society, posing one of the worst legitimacy challenges to the clerical leadership since the 1979 revolution.
“Majid Reza Rahnavard was hanged in public in [the holy Shia city of] Mashahd this morning … he was sentenced to death for ‘waging war against God’ after stabbing to death two members of security forces,” Mizan said.
Activists on social media criticized the execution of the 23-year-old Rahnavard as “a criminal act” by the clerical establishment to deter dissent.
WATCH | Iran executes young man linked to anti-government protests:
Iran’s hanging of another young man, Mohsen Shekari, on Thursday who was convicted of injuring a security guard with a knife and blocking a street in Tehran during protests has been widely condemned by the United States and its allies.
Rights groups have said Shekari was tortured and forced to confess.
At least 20 more people face death penalty
Amnesty International has said Iranian authorities are seeking the death penalty for at least 21 people in what it called “sham trials designed to intimidate those participating in the popular uprising that has rocked Iran.”
The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said on Monday that the bloc will agree on a “very tough” package of sanctions against Iran to show its support for peaceful protesters.
Blaming the unrest on foreign foes such as the United States and Israel, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani on Monday rejected Western criticism of rights abuses during the crackdown as meddling in Iran’s state matters.
The unrest has been watched closely by Israel, where a national security official said the executions did not appear to be deterring protesters and could further “box in the regime.”
“Because it can only respond with force, that has reinforced for the public the grievance being protested over,” the Israeli official told Reuters. “There is no returning this genie to the bottle.”
Iran’s state media aired footage of a man, whom they identified as Rahnavard, stabbing another man who fell against a parked motorcycle and then stabbing another person immediately after.
Mizan said Rahnavard was arrested when trying to flee the country 23 days ago. It said that his sentence was upheld by a higher court.
Rights group HRANA said that as of Sunday 488 protesters had been killed, including 68 minors. It said 62 members of the security forces had also been killed. As many as 18,259 protesters are believed to have been arrested, it said.
While the United Nations says the protests have cost more than 300 lives, a top Iranian state security body has said that 200 people, including members of the security forces, had died in the unrest.