Iran has announced the first execution of a protester convicted for his role in the ongoing wave of anti-government protests.
State media reported Thursday that Mohsen Shekari, 23, was hanged Thursday morning after being accused of blocking a street and attacking a security force member in Tehran.
Iranian courts have issued at least 10 death sentences for people arrested in connection w the protests, but Shekari was the first person executed.
Hadi Ghaemi, director of the Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, told VOA’s Persian service that all death sentences in Iranian courts are "political killings."
The civil unrest in Iran was triggered by the September death of an Iranian Kurdish woman, 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who had been detained by the country’s morality police for not wearing her hijab properly.
A sister of Iran’s supreme leader has condemned the crackdown on protesters and called on the Revolutionary Guard to stand down, according to a letter published by her son in France.
In a letter dated December 2022, Badri Hosseini Khamenei, who lives in Iran, went on to criticize the clerical establishment of the Islamic Republic from its founding to the present.
"I think it is appropriate now to declare that I oppose my brother's actions and I express my sympathy with all mothers mourning the crimes of the Islamic Republic, from the time of Khomeini to the current era of the despotic caliphate of Ali Khamenei," she wrote in the letter that her son, Mahmoud Moradkhani, shared Wednesday on Twitter.
"I hope that my mother's words will break the silence of the clerics who oppose [the Islamic Republic]," France-based Moradkhani told VOA Persian.
Moradkhani said he and his mother have not had any contact with Iran’s supreme leader since 2009, and that his mother is speaking out now to show she “was opposed to this regime from the very beginning.”
Moradkhani also said protesters “have lost their fear of this regime.”
“The government’s repression is no longer having a negative impact on the movement and is not weakening the protests,” Moradkhani said.
In her letter, Badri Khamenei urged the Revolutionary Guard to “lay down their weapons” and “join the people before it is too late.”
On Wednesday, student protesters were in the streets across Iran. VOA’s Persian Service cited reports that protests took place around at least 20 universities where security and plainclothes forces clashed with students.
Iran was already on Day 3 of a strike called by protesters. They had called for shop owners across the country to close their businesses through Wednesday to bring about government reform.
Iran's judiciary chief, Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei, ordered the arrest of anyone encouraging shopkeepers to close their businesses.
The strike came as confusion swirled over the status of Iran’s morality police, which enforces strict codes on women's dress.
The semiofficial news agency ISNA quoted Iran’s chief prosecutor, Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, in a Saturday report as saying the morality police “had been closed.”
Activists, however, voiced doubt that such actions were being taken. By late Sunday, state outlet Al-Alam issued a report saying the judiciary to which Montazeri belongs does not oversee the morality police.
Government officials have not publicly commented on the matter.
Rights groups say at least 471 people have been killed during the recent protests.
VOA’s Persian Service contributed to this report. Some information came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.