Iran uprising: Brutally slow public hanging of tortured protester Majidreza Rahnavard shows why West must stand up and be counted – Struan Stevenson

The depravity of the Iranian theocratic regime knows no bounds, as it has once again resorted to horrific acts of barbarity in an attempt to suppress the nationwide uprising, now into its 90th day.
A photograph of Majidreza Rahnavard, 23, stands on a table among candles during a demonstration by supporters of the National Council of Resistance of Iran in Berlin (Picture: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)A photograph of Majidreza Rahnavard, 23, stands on a table among candles during a demonstration by supporters of the National Council of Resistance of Iran in Berlin (Picture: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
A photograph of Majidreza Rahnavard, 23, stands on a table among candles during a demonstration by supporters of the National Council of Resistance of Iran in Berlin (Picture: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

The mullahs’ regime announced on Monday that they had hanged a young protester in public in the city of Mashhad, north-eastern Iran. Majidreza Rahnavard was executed less than three weeks after his arrest for participating in anti-regime protests. He was hanged from a crane, being lifted slowly into the air and left kicking and struggling as he slowly asphyxiated.

He had been denied access to legal representation at his trial and severely tortured in prison, suffering a broken arm and other injuries. Afraid that signs of torture on his body would be exposed, the mullahs ordered Majidreza’s body to be buried in secret, without informing his family.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The medieval brutality of Rahnavard’s public execution comes only days after the hanging of Mohsen Shekari, a 23-year-old student arrested during the ongoing protests, tortured into making a confession, then sentenced to death for the mullahs’ sham offence of “waging war against God”. That the clerical regime is resorting to torture and execution as they attempt to quell the escalating revolution is testimony to their increasing panic and desperation to cling to power.

They are prepared to defy all legal norms and all basic human rights, using vicious retaliatory measures against their own people. The civilized world must hold them to account. More than 700 mostly young men and women have been murdered so far by the regime which has adopted a shoot-to-kill policy of confronting the protests. Over 30,000 have been arrested and many more death sentences will be carried out unless the civilised nations of the world intervene.

The execution of the two young protesters has clear echoes of the 1988 massacre of more than 30,000 political prisoners in Iran, mostly young male and female supporters of the main democratic movement, the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK). They were executed on the orders of the psychotic former Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Iran’s current president, Ebrahim Raisi, is known as “The Butcher of Tehran” for his central role as one of the key members of a ‘Death Commission’ that ordered the executions during that notorious massacre.

And it was an order from Raisi to crackdown on women who failed to adhere to strict, misogynistic dress codes, that led to the death in custody in September of Mahsa Amini, the young Kurdish girl murdered by the so-called morality police for failing to wear her hijab properly. Mahsa Amini’s death sparked the nationwide uprising that has now entered its fourth consecutive month and is evolving rapidly into a full-scale revolution.

The current Supreme Leader, the elderly and delusional Ali Khamenei, has repeatedly blamed the MEK for instigating and coordinating the insurrection and is clearly determined, like his predecessor, to use the public execution of political prisoners as a gruesome warning to Iran’s incensed 85 million population that their protests will be met by certain death.

It is a major miscalculation. For every death of a protester, the public has become more enraged. The crowds chant slogans such as: “Death to Khamenei”, “Death to the dictator,” "Bloodthirsty Khamenei, we will bury you,” and “Khamenei is a murderer, his rule is null and void.” As the mostly young protesters have taken to the streets in over 280 cities in Iran, the chants have become more radical, calling for the complete overthrow of the regime.

Sick of four decades of repression that has culminated in soaring inflation, increasing unemployment, systematic corruption, discrimination and human rights abuse, the people of Iran have signalled enough is enough. The active participation of Kurds, Balochis, Turks and other national minorities of Iran is an important aspect of the insurrection. They have been chanting “From Kurdistan to Tehran, I will sacrifice my life for Iran”, “From Zahedan to Tehran, I will sacrifice my life for Iran”, and “Shi’ites and Sunnis are brothers who hate the leader to death”.

Students, including thousands of young women from almost all of Iran’s universities, have joined the nationwide insurrection. The main universities are either on strike or, despite repressive measures by the security forces, stage regular demonstrations. They have been joined in solidarity by primary and high school pupils and by shop owners, bazaar merchants, workers and other traders. Truck drivers have taken industrial action across the country, crippling the already broken economy. The mullahs’ regime is at its weakest point and its demise is imminent.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The United Nations’ Security Council, the US and the EU must take immediate action to prevent further acts of barbarism by the fascist, theocratic regime. Rhetoric is not enough. It is now incumbent on the international community to express its outrage and try to prevent yet more crimes against humanity. They must not hide behind a wall of silence.

Tough action is necessary. Iran’s embassies should be closed, and their diplomats expelled. Its Ministry of Intelligence and Security and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps should be placed on the terrorist blacklists. The increasingly fanatical and vicious Supreme Leader and his cohorts must be held to account for crimes against humanity and made to face trial in the international courts.

Above all, the West must stand up and be counted. Tehran’s depravity can no longer be tolerated. The West must show their support for the people of Iran, together with their courageous MEK resistance units, who are spearheading the insurrection.

Struan Stevenson, a former member of the European Parliament representing Scotland, is chair of the In Search of Justice committee on the protection of political freedoms in Iran. He is the author of several books.



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.