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US condemns death sentences against Iranian anti-government protesters

Iranian Anti-Government Protesters (Fars News Agency/WikiCommons)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The United States has condemned an Iranian court’s decision to issue death sentences against three men who took part in anti-government protests last year.

Amir-Hossein Moradi, Saeed Tamjidi, and Mohammad Rajabi were sentenced to death in February in connection with acts of arson that took place during the protests against Iran’s government in November 2019.

A statement tweeted by U.S. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus on June 26 highlighted their plight, noting reports that they were denied attorneys and had been tortured into giving false confessions.

“Iran must respect human rights and stop these executions,” Ortagus said.

After death sentences were issued against the three men, Amnesty International reported on February 28 that they “were denied access to lawyers during the investigation phase and say they were tortured.”

“Moradi says he was coerced into giving a ‘confession’ that was broadcast on state television and used as evidence to convict them,” Amnesty International reported.

On June 25, two other human rights organizations accused Iran’s state-controlled television of airing the forced confessions of at least 355 individuals from 2009 to 2019 in order to create fear and repress dissent.

That report by London-based Justice for Iran and the Paris-based International Federation For Human Rights highlighted Iran’s long-standing practice of forcing detainees to confess to charges dictated to them by their interrogators and using state television to produce and broadcast video of the forced confessions.

Their report says Iran’s state broadcaster, IRIB, has become a “means of mass suppression” that, in collaboration with the Intelligence Ministry and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), is actively involved in human rights violations.

“IRIB is not simply a media organization and by no means an independent one, but rather an organ of state suppression that uses the tools of mass communication,” the rights groups said.

Washington sanctioned a bank supporting IRIB in November 2018. It had already imposed sanctions on the broadcaster’s director, Abdulali Ali-Asgari, in May of that year.

The U.S. Treasury says IRIB “routinely broadcasts false news reports and propaganda, including forced confessions of political detainees.”