Monday , 15 July 2024

Iranian prisoners challenge execution machine – Political prisoners across nine Iranian prisons have joined the “No to Execution Tuesdays” campaign, condemning the death sentence of labor activist Sharifeh Mohammadi as “shameless and disgraceful.”

The movement calls for nationwide support to halt the “execution machine” of the Islamic Republic. On Tuesday, the prisoners will further their protest with a hunger strike against executions. Hundreds of prisoners have been executed this year.

A United Front Against Repression

The protesting prisoners, confined in Evin, Ghezel Hesar, Karaj Central, Khorramabad, Khoy, Naqadeh, Saqqez, Mashhad, and Tabriz prisons, issued a statement on Monday, marking the twenty-fourth week of their Tuesday hunger strikes. They warned of increasing executions in the coming weeks and months, following the recent presidential election.

“The repressive apparatus of the Islamic Republic,” the statement reads, “reduced executions to the maximum extent possible before the electoral show. However, it will now accelerate the issuance and execution of death sentences and will suppress the families of the victims more than before.”

Escalating Human Rights Violations

The cases of Sharifeh Mohammadi and the arrest of Rana Kourkour, the sister of condemned protester Mojahed Kourkour, exemplify the government’s tactics. These incidents signify an escalation in human rights violations, as authorities continue to disregard the right to life with impunity.

The hunger strike campaign began on January 29 and 30 in response to the executions of Vafa Azarbar, Mohammad Faramarzi, Pejman Fatehi, and Mohsen Mazloum. Initially spearheaded by inmates in Ghezel Hesar Karaj prison, the movement quickly spread, with prisoners from other facilities joining the cause. Over the past year, Ghezel Hesar jail has become the largest center for executions in the country.

A Defiant Stand

The striking prisoners noted the rejection of the recent elections by the majority of Iranian voters. They emphasized, “Reviewing the behavior of the government’s repressive apparatus in recent years has shown that whenever there has been a grand display of the majority of the Iranian people against the ruling minority, the government’s repressive machine has become more active. To instill fear and intimidate the people to prevent uprisings and political and social protests against tyranny, it has made the most use of executions.”

This stance underscores the prisoners’ belief that the fight against executions will only be successful through “solidarity, collective and widespread activism.” They argue that no one can fully comprehend the depth of the pain and suffering of those at risk of execution as well as the prisoners themselves. They have called on prisoners nationwide to join the “campaign against executions.”

Alarming Statistics and Global Attention

On July 3, the Iran Human Rights Organization reported 249 executions in the previous six months, highlighting a surge in the use of the death penalty. The increase is particularly alarming in the wake of the presidential election, as noted by Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, the director of the organization. He urged both the international community and the Iranian public to prepare for a potential wave of executions and to respond appropriately.

Amnesty International’s annual report on the death penalty, released on May 29, highlighted Iran’s rise in executions, revealing that nearly 75% of all recorded executions worldwide last year took place in Iran. According to Amnesty, the Iranian government has intensified its use of the death penalty following the Mahsa movement, aiming to “instill fear among the people and tighten its grip on power.”

A Call for Action

The “No to Execution Tuesdays” campaign is not just a protest but a call for justice and human rights. It serves as a reminder of the reality faced by those who speak out against tyranny. As the prisoners continue their hunger strike, their plea for solidarity and activism resonates beyond prison walls, calling for global attention and action to end the cycle of repression and execution in Iran.