Iran: oppose death penalty for detained protesters

Sixteen UN-appointed human rights experts called on Iranian authorities Nov. 11 not to indict people on charges punishable by death for participating in peaceful demonstrations. "We urge Iranian authorities to stop using the death penalty as a tool to squash protests and reiterate our call to immediately release all protesters who have been arbitrarily deprived of their liberty for the sole reason of exercising their legitimate rights to freedom of opinion and expression," the experts said in a statement. (UN News) Since then at least five people have been sentenced to death on the charge of moharebeh ("enmity against God") in connection with the anti-government protests that have been raging for two months. A popular Kurdish rap artist, Saman Yasin, is among those facing execution. Days before the UN statement, 227 members of Iran's 290-member parliament approved a resolution demanding that the judiciary "deal decisively" with "rioters"—taken to mean imposing the death penalty. (BBC News, Iran International, Reuters, Arab News)

Iran is believed to execute more people annually than any other country except China. At least 14,000 people have been arrested since the protests began, with some 350 killed by the security forces. At least five protesters have been sentenced to terms of between five and 10 years in prison, including one who allegedly set fire to a government building. (The Guardian, Arab News, CNN)

Two prominent Iranian film and stage actors, Hengameh Ghaziani and Katayoun Riahi, have been arrested for posting videos of themselves without hijab—a gesture of solidarity with the protests. (BBC News, IranWire, ScreenDaily)

On Nov. 20, the military was deployed to put down protests in the northern Kurdish city of Mahabad, West Azarbaijan province. Video posted to social media shows armored vehicles in the streets, and troops have reportedly fired into the crowds, although a death toll is not yet known. (Iran International)

In Sistan-Baluchistan province, protest blockades have repeatedly halted operations at the Taftan gold mine—a source of much wealth for the government, despite the fact that Baluchistan is among the poorest regions of the country. (RFE/RL)