Mostafa Salehi Executed, In Spite of Iran’s Massive #StopExecutions Campaign
Iranian media has reported that Mostafa Salehi, a political prisoner charged with the murder of a Basij paramilitary officer during Iran’s protests in January 2018, was hanged this week. Salehi had repeatedly denied the charges levied against him and reportedly did not receive a fair trial following his arrest. His execution has been considered especially jarring since it occurred a mere 2 weeks after a massive campaign against the death penalty in Iran, and has raised concerns from human rights organizations that other political prisoners may be at increased risk.
Mr. Salehi was arrested during protests in the city of Kahrizsang, Najafabad in Isfahan province. The Iranian judiciary claims that Salehi killed a Basij paramilitary officer with a shotgun and wounded six others during the protests, and then fled from the authorities for several days. Mr. Salehi repeatedly denied these allegations in court, but was convicted by the judiciary. However, human rights organizations have noted that Salehi was reportedly denied access to his lawyer during the investigation process of the trial — a common tactic used against other political prisoners in Iran. Salehi also reportedly spent time in solitary confinement prior to his execution.
Last month, the Iranian judiciary announced that 8 prisoners involved in the January 2018 protests and the more recent November protests, including Salehi, would receive the death sentence. The others include Mohammad Bastami, Mehdi Salehi, Hadi Kiani, Abbas Mohammadi, and Majid Nazari, who have all been charged with “corruption on earth.” However, to date Mr. Salehi is the only one of these who has been executed.
Mr. Salehi was executed in spite of a massive online campaign against the death penalty which took place in Iran only 2 weeks ago. The campaign, which began as an effort to protect 3 prisoners in Tehran who had been sentenced to death, included a tweet storm for Iran to #StopExecutions, which was shared more than 10 million times on social media. Mr. Salehi’s execution has raised concern from human rights organizations that the lives of other political prisoners may be at increased risk in the coming weeks.