Iran Executes Political Prisoner

Political opponent hanged for backing opposition group

Man being hanged near Tehran, Iran / AP
June 2, 2014

Iranian authorities executed on Sunday a dissident political prisoner on charges of "waging war against God," according to opposition leaders and human rights activists tracking the situation.

Gholamreza Khosravi, a 49-year-old Iranian political dissident, was hanged in prison early Sunday due to his support for the People's Mujahideen Organization of Iran (PMOI), an opposition group that seeks to overthrow the ruling regime.

Khosravi was initially sentenced to life in prison in 2008 after he contributed $3,000 to a satellite television station affiliated with the PMOI, an exiled dissident group also known as the MEK.

Iranian authorities changed the sentence to death in April 2012 and carried it out over the weekend after Khosravi refused orders to publicly condemn the PMOI in interviews, according to sources close to Khosravi’s family.

Human rights activists and PMOI officials condemned the execution and charged Iranian authorities with carrying out an unfair trial and imprisonment of Khosravi, whose family was summoned to the Evin prison outside Tehran late Saturday and informed of Khosravi’s execution order.

Khosravi’s advocates expressed frustration at the Obama administration, claiming that it is not doing nearly enough to stop the Iranian regime’s ongoing human rights abuses and near daily executions of prisoners.

"The execution of Mr. Khosravi was an act of utter cowardice, reflecting the Iranian regime’s intense fear of the growing prowess and appeal of the Iranian Resistance within Iran," Ali Safavi, the U.S. spokesman for the National Council of Resistance of Iran, a PMOI affiliate, told the Washington Free Beacon on Sunday.

"The international community, and in particular the Obama administration, must end their inexcusable silence vis-à-vis the egregious rights abuses in Iran, which have dramatically increased since the so-called moderate Hassan Rouhani became president," Safavi said. "Tehran’s human rights file must be referred to the UN Security Council and its leaders must be held accountable for their crimes against humanity."

Ahmed Shaheed, the United Nations Special Rapporteur for human rights in Iran, called the execution a "flagrant violation of international law" and expressed alarm over what he called "the widening scope of executions in Iran, including juvenile executions," according to Shaheed’s Twitter feed.

Khosravi was defiant until his death, observers said, and refused to renounce his support for the PMOI despite pressure from Iranian authorities.

"I have no fear or horror in declaring my support for the PMOI. Let me be sent to the gallows for this support and for the anti-human animosity of this regime towards MEK and its supporters," Khosravi wrote in a 2013 letter from prison. "Let me be the flag of honor and liberation for the heroic people of Iran and let our martyrdom result in defaming this anti-human regime and cause its quicker downfall."

Khosravi said that his life imprisonment was changed to death due to his refusal to participate in Iranian regime propaganda.

"The basis for my death sentence is that I have exposed brutality of the Ministry of Intelligence and refused to provide information and doing TV interviews, renouncing the MEK," he wrote.

The execution of Khosravi came just a day after an Iranian court sentenced eight citizens to lengthy jail terms for criticizing the regime on Facebook.

The eight people reportedly received sentences ranging from seven to 20 years for Facebook posts "insulting the supreme leader [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] and the authorities," as well as other charges of "anti-regime activities, sacrilege and spreading lies," according to Agence France-Presse.

Published under: Iran