Arrested and executed in less than a month: Iran hangs second regime opponent

The regime in Tehran executed a young man early Monday morning after a trial on murder charges and other accusations that barely lasted three weeks.

Majidreza Rahnavard was convicted after a hasty trial overseen by the country’s hardline Revolutionary Court for allegedly stabbing two members of the pro-regime Basiji militia to death and injuring four others on 17 November in the northeast city Mashhad, the judiciary’s official Mizan news agency reported.

He was arrested 19 November, allegedely while trying to exit Iran, put on trial, convicted, and “publicly” hanged before a crowd of pro-regime gunmen and their families, according to Mizan. The athlete’s family was informed of his death afterward.

“We have killed your son, and buried his body,” the family was purportely told in a quick phone call from a regime operative, according to the activist collective 1500 Tasvir.

Rahnavard, who worked as a fruit vendor and was an accomplished wrestler, was 23 years old. And after his burial, relatives managed to find his gravesite, places fllowers on it, and began chanting defiantly. “Beloved of the homeland, martyr of the nation,” they chant, according to video posted online.

It was the Islamic regime’s second hanging of a protester in less than 100 hours, an apparent to attempt by embattled hardliners in Tehran to terrify into submission a relentless popular uprising against their rule.

The executions, which have caused widespread domestic and international outrage, are also an indicator that the most extreme and uncompromsing elements under the leadership under Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei hold sway over more pragmatic voices considering concessions to quell protests originally sparked by opposition to the forced veling of women and the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini.

The protests, which began 16 September, quickly expanded to include general opposition to Iran’s 44-year-old theocratic dictatorship, with protesters across the country demanding political and cultural rights and the dofall of the regime. They have touched scores of cities and towns, drawing in youth and labourers from various ethnic groups and social classes. They have crippled the country’s economy, dragging the currency to an all-time low, and tattered the country’s already dismal international reputation.

Questionable executions of prisoners have long been a feature of the country’s current leadership. The current president, Ebrahim Raissi, has proudly admitted overseeing the mass executions of thousands of prisoners, some of whom had already been sentenced and were serving their terms, in a spasm of state-sanctioned bloodletting in the late 1980s.

Rahnavard was among six other men on trial facing charges on crimes carrying the death penalty. The prosecutions fall well below even Iran’s already internationally low standards of transparency and due process in capital punishment cases.

According to footage published on regime media platforms, a man has been seen chasing another around a street corner and standing over him before stabbing the person. The assailant has been alleged to be Rahnavard, news outlets claimed.

The deceased was identified as a “student” Basji paramilitary enforcer, reported Mizan.

The armed plainclothes Basij militiamen, under the command of Iran’s hardline Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, have been deployed by the to to quell protests throughout the country.

No motive was attributed for Rahnavard’s alleged crime.

In addition to murder, he was convicted on a charge of "moharebeh," a murkily defined Islamic crime meaning "waging war against God."

According to claims cited state media, the young man had confessed to the charges. But opposition news outlets have said that he was not given access to a lawyer and was tortured while in custody.

Amnesty International said that it has identified at least 18 others at risk of execution because of their participation in ongoing protests.

"These executions are an obvious attempt to intimidate, not because people have committed a crime, but simply express their opinions in the street,” said German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock during a visit to Brussels.

A dozen people are already suspected to have been sentenced to death in closed-door hearings, activists have warned. Another prisoner, 23-year-old Mahan Sedarat, faces execution after the country’s hardline judiciacy confired his sentence, even though his alleged victims have agreed to a commutation.

At least 488 people have been killed in the protests in Iran, according to Hrana, an activist network based in Olso.

Another 18,200 are likely detained by the officials, the organisation said.