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Iranian social media campaign calls for halt to executions of three young men

THE Iranian regime faces unprecedented pressure to cancel the execution of three young men after social media protests against the death sentences went viral, becoming one of the country’s biggest ever digital campaigns.

Pop star Mohsen Chavoshi, actor Taraneh Alidousti, Oscar-winning filmmaker Asghar Farhadi and Iranian national football team player Hossein Mahini were among those who lent their support to the campaign, with the hashtag #DontExecute trending on Twitter with 4.5 million tweets worldwide.

They were responding to an announcement by the judiciary on Tuesday upholding the decision to execute Amirhossein Moradi, Saeed Tamjidi and Mohammad Rajabi for their role in last year’s anti-government protests.

Lawyers for the three men said had the trio had been forced to confess under “aberrant conditions” after being returned to Iran from neighbouring Turkey, where they had sought political asylum on the grounds that their lives were in danger.

As many as 1,500 people are believed to have been killed in a clampdown on last year’s protests, which swept the country after the government announced a rise in oil prices amid deep economic turmoil.

Former vice-president Mohamad Ali Abtahi warned the clerical regime not to be stubborn in the face of such strong opposition to the executions, which are believed to be imminent.

Using the #DontExecute hashtag, former interior minister Mostafa Tajzadeh wrote: “Nothing shakes and weakens the foundations of the government and provokes public retaliation like spilling the blood of innocent people.”

Iran executed at least 251 people last year, according to Amnesty International and about 100 more were sent to the gallows between January and last month despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

On Monday, the Kurdistan Human Rights Network reported the execution of Kurdish political prisoners Sebir Sexzade and Diyako Resulzade.

They had been sentenced to death for “enmity against God” and membership of the banned Komala organisation on the basis of confessions extracted by torture.      

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