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Iranian Authorities Begin Issuing Death Sentences for Detained Anti-Regime Protestors

Iranian protestors, pictured above. Courtesy of Aljazeera and AP Photo.

After weeks of widespread anti-regime protests on behalf of Mahsa Amini, the Islamic Republic of Iran has begun issuing death sentences for detained demonstrators. The first call for capital punishment came on November 13 to an unnamed individual who was tried for multiple offenses, including “setting fire to a government center” and “disturbing public order.” An additional three death sentences were ordered at other anti-government protestors on November 17, and, according to Amnesty International, 21 more detainees have been charged with offenses punishable by death.

While it is unclear if the sentenced Iranian protestors are university students, it is not unlikely that students will be at risk of the same punishment going forward. In early November, Iran’s judiciary announced that 1,024 indictments had been issued solely to demonstrators in the Tehran province, the most populated region in Iran with tens of higher education institutions, including the country’s prestigious Sharif University of Technology and Alzahra University. Moreover, on November 8 the Iranian Parliament issued a letter calling for harsher punishments of protestors, including public executions. The issuance of the letter was followed by the procession of the Parliament’s chanting “death to seditionists.” University students and faculty are demonstrably at risk of the regime’s explicit desires for ruthless, unjust punishment.

The latest death sentences are part of a larger ongoing pattern of autocratic violence that the Iranian authorities have deployed to crackdown on widespread resistance. In detainment, there has been evidence that protestors have been “subjected to torture and other ill-treatment” that have led to forced confessions, which are then used as valid evidence in “speedy” court trials. Iran Human Rights, which called on universities around the world to condemn the government crackdown targeting Iranian campuses several weeks ago, spoke out again on the expedient and heinous trials on November 17. "Protesters don't have access to lawyers in the interrogation phase,” director Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam said. “They are subjected to physical and mental torture to give false confessions and sentenced based on the confessions.” To mitigate further legal injustices, Amnesty International has urged all governments with embassies in Iran to immediately send high level observers to all ongoing trials where defendants are at risk of being sentenced to death.

Disproportionate use of force by Iranian security forces is not limited to the prison; they have also brutally attacked and, in some instances, murdered protestors on the streets, during the demonstrations. On November 15, 12 people were reportedly killed by police in another demonstration, according to BBC. Then again on November 16, media reports indicated another five protestors were killed in the city of Izeh.

Endangered Scholars enjoins Amnesty International’s calls for the Iranian authorities to immediately cease all death sentences and drop all charges related to the nonviolent exercise of human rights. ESW deplores and condemns the use of force by the Iranian state, which has resulted in multiple deaths and injuries following the murder of Amini. We also condemn the ongoing detention and mistreatment of Iranian protestors, including university students and staff, who continue to be abused, arrested, and violated by Iranian security and police. We call upon all international organizations, academic and professional associations, and other groups and individuals devoted to the promotion and defense of human rights and academic freedom to strongly protest and condemn the actions of the Iranian government and security forces; to ask for all student protestors’ immediate and unconditional release; and to support the local protests on behalf of Mahsa Amini and the Iranian students, who continue to advocate for their justice and freedom.

Please send appeals on behalf of the student protestors to the following:

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

The Office of the Supreme Leader

Jomhouri Street


Islamic Republic of Iran

Fax: +98 21 644 11



President Raisi

The Office of the President

Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection


Islamic Republic of Iran

Javad Zarif

Minister of Foreign Affairs

The Minister’s Office

Imam Khomeini Square


Islamic Republic of Iran

Fax: +98 21 66743149



Michelle Bachelet

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Palais des Nations

CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland



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