The US on Thursday said that Iran's execution of a man who participated in the country's mass demonstrations is a “grim escalation” in its crackdown on protests.
Mohsen Shekari is the first known protester to have been executed after participating in the demonstrations that started after the death of Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish-Iranian woman who died in police custody after she was detained for not wearing her head covering properly.
“The execution of Mohsen Shekari represents a grim escalation in the regime's attempt to suppress dissent and quash these protests,” said State Department spokesman Ned Price.
The 23-year-old was convicted of stabbing a security guard and blocking a Tehran street as part of anti-government protests, Mizan, a news agency run by Iran's judiciary, reported. He was executed on Thursday.
Iran Human Rights, an Oslo-based NGO, said 11 people have been sentenced to death in the country over the protests. Activists say more than 400 people have been killed in the protests thus far.
In a tweet, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on Iran to stop its harsh treatment of protesters.
“We are appalled by the execution of Mohsen Shekari,” he wrote. “Our message to Iran's leadership is clear: end this brutal crackdown.
“We will continue to hold the Iranian regime accountable.”
National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan tweeted: “The unjust and cruel execution of Mohsen Shekari is a cynical attempt to intimidate the brave Iranian people. Our hearts are with his family.
“We will hold the Iranian regime accountable for the brutal violence it’s committing against its own people.”
Mr Blinken on Thursday also signed a letter denouncing online harassment and abuse against women, in light of the Iranian protests.
“Women and girls have faced targeted online harassment and abuse by Iranian authorities, their apparatuses and institutions as they demand respect for their human rights and fundamental freedoms,” foreign ministers from the US, UK and seven other countries said in a statement.
“We condemn this ongoing violent crackdown on protesters, including on digital platforms and through internet restrictions.”