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“Blank intimidation”: France and Germany condemn second execution in Iran

origin 1A protester with an Iranian flag painted on her face takes part in a candlelight vigil in honor of Nobel Peace Prize winners in Oslo, Norway on Saturday, December 10, 20 ©Markus Schreiber/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved

The execution of a second Iranian prisoner is “a blatant attempt at intimidation” by the Iranian government, according to German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock.

“A system that treats its citizens in this way cannot expect to continue having half-normal relations with the European Union,” he said as EU leaders arrived in Brussels on Monday.

Majidreza Rahnavard was hanged from a construction crane in the northern Iranian city of Mashad on Monday after he was accused of killing two security officers and wounding four others during nationwide protests.

Rahnavard was convicted of “moharebeh” (war against God), a charge used since the 1979 Islamic revolution that carried the death penalty.

Iranians have been protesting since September in what has become the biggest challenge to Islamic rule in recent history.

The riots were sparked by the 22-year-old’s death Mahsa Aminiafter being arrested by the country’s morality police for allegedly not wearing the hijab properly.

Protests in Iran: What Caused Them? Are they different this time? Will the regime fall?

Top EU diplomat Josep Borrell said the bloc would approve “a very, very tough sanctions package” against Iran for its brutal crackdown on protesters and supply of drones to Russia.

In November, Iran admitted supplying Russia with military drones that have been used to cripple Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, though Moscow denies using Iranian-made equipment.

The French Foreign Ministry has also denounced human rights violations by the Iranian regime.

“France condemns in the strongest terms today’s public execution of an Iranian man sentenced to death following his participation in demonstrations.”

“Iran must understand that the European Union will strongly condemn these acts and will take all possible measures to support young women, peaceful protesters and certainly the rejection of the death penalty.”

Human rights groups have widely denounced the hanging of Majidreza Rahnavard, with the US-based Center for Human Rights in Iran describing it as “state-sponsored murder”.

Amnesty International also criticized the Iranian government in an indirect tweet on Monday, which read simply: “Abolish the death penalty. Abolish the death penalty. Abolish the death penalty. Abolish the death penalty.”

On 8 December, Iran carried out its first execution in connection with the recent protests, killing Moshen Shekari, accused by the authorities of blocking a road and machete-attacking a member of the security forces in Tehran.

Iranian security forces have been accused of using excessive violence against protesters, reportedly using batons, rubber bullets and sometimes firing live ammunition into the crowd. Some protesters say violence is necessary for self-defense.

The first execution provoked widespread condemnation on the international stage, with the German Foreign Minister tweeting “The inhumanity of the Iranian regime knows no bounds”.

The news was also met with scorn in the United States, with State Department spokesman Ned Price warning Tehran that the international community would implement more sanctions.

“As this violent crackdown on peaceful protesters continues, the Iranian regime should know that the world is watching.”

“We are committed to supporting the Iranian people and imposing costs on those responsible for the brutal crackdown.”

Human rights activists in Iran, a group monitoring the protests, have warned that at least a dozen Iranians have already been sentenced to death in closed hearings.

About 18,200 people have been arrested by the authorities.

According to the Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights, the country is one of the biggest perpetrators in the world and has killed more than 500 prisoners this year, the most in five years.