Iran death sentences for jailed protesters prompt US criticism

Executions have sparked global outrage and prompted western governments to impose new sanctions on Tehran

Demonstrators in London show solidarity with Iranians at a protest against executions ordered by the regime. Reuters
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The White House has condemned the latest executions of protesters announced by Iran and said the US stands with other countries in demanding an "immediate cessation" of the death sentences.

Dozens of Iranian protesters have gathered outside a prison near Tehran ahead of the imminent executions of two young Iranian protesters, according to videos posted online.

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Twitter that the US condemned the executions of Mohammad Mehdi Karami and Seyyed Mohammad Hosseini, as well as three more death sentences announced on Monday.

"We join with partners around the world calling for an immediate cessation of these abuses. Iran will be held accountable," he said.

Mohammad Ghobadlou, 22, and Mohammad Boroughani, 19, are on death row in the Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj, close to the Iranian capital.

Fourteen other protesters have been sentenced to death and are at “imminent risk” of execution, according to Hadi Ghaemi of the Centre for Human Rights in Iran.

On Tuesday, the UN's human rights chief said Iran was "weaponising" the death penalty to punish protesters.

Volker Turk said the threat of death was being used to strike fear into the Iranian population and stamp out dissent.

"The weaponisation of criminal procedures to punish people for exercising their basic rights — such as those participating in or organising demonstrations — amounts to state-sanctioned killing," he said.

On Monday, Canada announced a new round of sanctions after the regime's "brutal repression of brave Iranian voices", said Foreign Minister Melanie Joly.

Pope Francis criticised Iran for its use of the death penalty against anti-regime protesters, saying it only “fuels the thirst for vengeance”.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary James Cleverly summoned Iran’s top diplomat to condemn his country’s “abhorrent executions”.

According to Amnesty International, Iran is second only to China in its use of the death penalty, with at least 314 people executed in 2021.

More rallies against the Iranian regime have been held in London and Paris in recent days, while protests continue inside Iran.

Updated: January 10, 2023, 11:21 AM