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The executions in Iran have drawn global condemnation as the crackdown continues

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Iran continued to quash death sentences as the judiciary said on Tuesday it would “severely” punish women who violate its strict dress code, while the United Nations warned that Tehran was trying to quash protests by using the death penalty as a weapon.

Demonstrations have swept Iran since the killing of Mahsa Amini, 22, on September 16, after she was arrested in Tehran for allegedly not adhering to a dress code requiring women to wear the veil.

After nearly four months of protests, in which Iran hanged four people for their role in the unrest, the UN human rights office in Geneva said Iran’s executions without due process amounted to “state-sanctioned killing”.

Since the protests erupted, morality police units tasked with enforcing veiling rules have been less visible and many women have taken to the streets with their heads uncovered.

But as the demonstrations continued, the Public Prosecutor on Tuesday issued a directive “in which the police were ordered to punish any violation of the veil firmly,” the Mehr news agency reported.

Mehr quoted the judiciary as saying, “The courts must rule on violators and fine them with additional penalties such as banishment, banning the practice of certain professions, and closing workplaces.”

High death sentences

On Tuesday, the Iranian judiciary said that another man had been sentenced to death in connection with the protests, and Javad Rouhi had been convicted of “corruption on earth” charges.

The judiciary’s Mizan Online news website reported that Rouhi was convicted of “leading a group of rioters”, “inciting people to create insecurity”, as well as “apostasy by desecrating the Qur’an by burning it”.

This ruling, which can still be appealed, brings to 18 the total number of people declared by the judiciary to have been sentenced to death in connection with the protests.

Of those 18 who have been confirmed, four are already dead and six face trials.

However, the Oslo-based Iranian Human Rights Organization (IHR) said at least 109 protesters now in detention have been sentenced to death or face charges that could amount to the death penalty.

Iran has blamed the unrest on hostile foreign forces, and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Monday that authorities were dealing “seriously and fairly” with those involved in the “riots”.

In an updated death toll, the regulations said Monday that 481 protesters have been killed, including 64 minors, since the unrest began.

Iranian authorities say hundreds, including members of the security forces, have been killed.

‘Fear Strike’

The United Nations has warned that Iran uses the death penalty to intimidate the public and crush dissent.

“Criminal procedures and the death penalty are being used as a weapon by the Iranian government to punish individuals participating in protests and terrorize the population to eliminate dissent, in violation of international human rights law,” said the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk.

“The weaponization of criminal measures to punish people for exercising their basic rights – such as participating in or organizing demonstrations – amounts to state-sanctioned killing,” Türk added.

The crackdown and executions sparked global outrage and new Western sanctions against Tehran.

Rights groups have also accused Iran of extracting forced confessions and denying due process for thousands of detainees.

According to the London-based rights group Amnesty International, Iran is second only to China in using the death penalty, with at least 314 people executed in 2021.

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