Iran has not sentenced 15,000 protesters to death

Only one protester has been sentenced to death so far. But human rights groups warn that future sentences could come without warning or due process.

protests across Iran, led mostly by women, have been calling for improvements in human rights and civil liberties in the country for weeks. That demonstrations began after a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini, died in police custody after being arrested on charges of improperly wearing hijab, a head covering that Iranian law requires women to wear in public.

According to estimates by human rights groups, more than 15,000 demonstrators have been arrested by the Iranian government in recent weeks.

Several on Monday posts went on social media viral – also by celebrities like Sophie Turner and Viola Davis – claiming that all 15,000 of those protesters had been sentenced to death and warning of an impending mass execution.


Have 15,000 Iranian protesters been sentenced to death?



That's wrong.

No, 15,000 demonstrators were not sentenced to death. So far, only one protester has received such a punishment. But human rights groups warn that future sentences could come without warning or due process.


Although an estimated 15,000 protesters have been arrested in Iran, posts circulating on social media claiming they have all been sentenced to death are inaccurate.

Until now, reporting indicates only a person was actually sentenced to death in connection with the protests. Experts warn that more could come at some point.

The viral posts, like those by Davis and gymnastquote a Newsweek article with the headline “Iran protesters refuse to back down as 15,000 people face execution”.

The number 15,000 comes from estimates by the United Nations and the News agency for human rights activists how many people in total were arrested in Iran in connection with the protests.

That Newsweek article claims “the country’s parliament voted overwhelmingly in favor of the death penalty for protesters.”

This claim is based on a letter reported Iranian state media to have been signed by 227 Iranian lawmakers who “asked [Iranian] Justice officials to consider severe penalties for all involved,” what the letter describes as “riots.”

According to state media, the letter read in part: “We, the representatives of this nation, ask all state officials, including the judiciary, to treat those who have waged war [against the Islamic establishment] and attacked the lives and property of people like Daesh [terrorists]in a way that would be a good lesson in a short amount of time.”

However, there are two problems with the characterization of this writing in the article and subsequent posts. For one thing, there is no indication that the letter specifically calls for the death penalty.

The Newsweek article itself – partially replicated a CNN article published two days earlier – said: “The legislature added that such a punishment … the methods of which were not specified … ‘would show no leniency to anyone.'”

Second, the parliament in Iran does not pass judgements. The letter was a broad call for Iranian courts to treat protesters harshly; it was not itself a kind of binding act.

According to that form projectthat pursues global constitutions, the judiciary is a separate branch of government in Iranian constitution.

Article 57 reads: “Government power in the Islamic Republic rests with the legislature, the judiciary and the executive, which are under the supervision of the absolute Wilayat al-‘amr and the leadership of the Ummah in accordance with the coming article of this Constitution. These powers are independent of each other.”

Chapter XI further sets out the role of the judiciary as an “independent power”.

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Although Parliament’s request is not an actual sentence, experts agree with the United Nations Human Rights Council called the letter’s attempt to influence the courts a “blatant violation of the separation of powers”.

The same expert group said in an open letter that even without a verdict, the sheer number of people charged with crimes that could eventually carry the death penalty is worrying.

“Eight people were indicted by the Islamic Revolution Court on October 29 … for crimes carrying the death penalty, namely ‘waging war against God,'” the letter reads. “Two days later, Tehran’s prosecutor announced that around 1,000 charges had been filed in connection with the recent ‘riots’ in Tehran province alone and that trials were scheduled before the Islamic Revolutionary Court for cases against a number of individuals.”

“We call on the Iranian authorities to end the use of the death penalty as a means of cracking down on protests and reiterate our call for the immediate release of all protesters who have been arbitrarily deprived of their liberty simply for exercising their legitimate right to freedom of speech and expression . Association and Peaceful Assembly and for their actions to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms by peaceful means,” the experts said.

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groups like Iranian human rights similarly fear a trend toward quick, harsh penalties imposed without due process.

“Evidence suggests that Islamic Republic authorities may be planning hasty executions. At least 20 protesters currently face the death penalty, according to official reports,” the group wrote in an article published on its website.

Iranian human rights estimates In 2022, there were a total of 470 executions in Iran. Amnesty International an estimated 314 in 2021 and 246 in 2020, evidence of a rapid upward trend in the use of the death penalty in the country.

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Laura Coffey

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