Iranian lawmakers urge judiciary to sentence protesters to death

A group of 227 Iranian parliamentarians have called on the judiciary to issue death sentences for those arrested during the ongoing anti-government protests.

The parliament, elected in non-competitive elections in February 2020, is packed with hardliners and Revolutionary Guard officers.

In a statement that was read out to parliament on Sunday, lawmakers called the protesters ‘mohareb’, which literally means warrior in Arabic, but in Islamic law or Sharia it means ‘enemy of God’ subject to punishment of death. They also likened the protesters to ISIS operatives, who “attack people’s lives and property…”

The Iranian regime has so far charged several people with “moharebeh”, “corruption on earth”, “gathering and collusion against national security” and “confrontation with the Islamic Republic” for participating in the protests.

Describing the current wave of popular protests as “riots”, the MPs claimed that “the United States and other enemies” are inciting violence, organizing rallies and providing financial support and weapons to commandeer the protests. They also said “thugs and mobs” had killed dozens of people and disrupted the country’s security.

Echoing the Islamic Republic’s propaganda line, lawmakers said “enemies have been defeated in Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Lebanon and Yemen”, so they staged the “riots” in reaction to the “victories of the Islamic Republic”.

Without mentioning any individuals or groups, extremist lawmakers also called on the judiciary to prosecute “the politicians who incited the riots”.

Mohammd Bagher Ghalibaf, speaker of parliament in an undated photo with IRGC’s Qasem Soleimani

Earlier in the parliamentary session, President Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf (Qalibaf) said that the main elements of Mossad, the CIA and their allied groups are behind the unrest in the country.

In late October, hardline MP Mohammad Esmail Kowsari, also a senior IRGC official, implicitly threatened that the government will react differently to the ongoing protests from now on.

As protests continue across Iran, the Islamic Republic’s Judiciary has also announced that it has charged more than 1,000 people who were arrested during the protests.

Authorities have claimed that “separatists” and “instigators” are behind efforts to overthrow the government and push Iran into areas controlled by ethnic groups, a claim regularly denied by Iranians in the streets and social networks.

The assertion that the protests are started by foreign enemies was first made by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and loyal officials are now repeating his conspiracy theory.

On October 25, President Ebrahim Raisi accused “enemies of the Islamic Republic” of fomenting the protests, echoing what Khamenei said a day earlier. Speaker of Parliament Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf in turn promised that parliament would take steps to change the habits of the morality police to calm protesters.

“The death sentences of people for exercising their right to freedom of expression, after the killings of peaceful protesters, the kidnappings and murders of children, and other atrocities, indicate a government that is out of control and ready to reverse the demonstrations at all costs,” said a statement from the Center for Human Rights in Iran.

The Norway-based human rights organization also expressed concern over the plight of the detained protesters, saying “dozens of them have been charged with security-related charges of ‘moharebeh’ and of “corruption on earth”, punishable by death”.

The Islamic Republic’s history and current evidence indicate that it intends to use the death penalty as a tool of political repression to intimidate its opposition.

Earlier in November, 40 Iranian lawyers issued a statement saying that most people don’t want the islamic republic anymore and called on their peers to speak up and stand up for the people.

Iran has been plagued by protests since the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian of Kurdish origin who had been arrested on September 13 for allegedly breaking the Islamic dress code and died three days later from a serious traumatic brain injury. The protests have spread fueled by public outrage at a crackdown that has resulted in the deaths of other young men, women and children. Now in their seventh week, the protests show no sign of ending.

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