The United States “will always stand with the Iranian people in their struggle for true justice,” a State Department spokesperson told Al Arabiya English on Tuesday, in reaction to Iran suspending the execution of three protesters due to an online campaign.
“We are glad to hear that the Iranian regime backed off their plans to execute three men for protesting,” said a State Department spokesperson, adding that many others are still at risk of torture and execution.
The three men are Amirhossein Moradi and Mohammad Rajabi, both 26 years old, and Said Tamjidi, 28 – all linked to protests that took place across Iran last November following Tehran’s implementation of petrol rationing, which raised pump prices over 50 percent.
Iran’s judiciary halted their executions on Sunday following an online campaign to overturn the capital punishment, which used the Farsi hashtag #do_not_execute and the English hashtag #StopExecutionsinIran.
US Donald President Trump used his Twitter platform to advocate on their behalf in both Farsi and English on July 15.
“Three individuals were sentenced to death in Iran for participating in protests. The execution is expected momentarily. Executing these three people sends a terrible signal to the world and should not be done! #StopExecutionsInIran” Trump said in the tweets.
Three individuals were sentenced to death in Iran for participating in protests. The execution is expected momentarily. Executing these three people sends a terrible signal to the world and should not be done! #StopExecutionsInIran— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 15, 2020
Iran tried to curtail the social media storm by shutting down the internet on Friday according to NetBlocks, a non-governmental organization that monitors cybersecurity and Internet freedom.
Confirmed: Internet restrictions are in place in #Khuzestan Province, southwest #Iran from 10 p.m. local time; real-time network data show total (pictured) and partial disruptions varying by provider amid anti-government protests; incident ongoing #IranProtests 📉 pic.twitter.com/UzhsERVj5i— NetBlocks.org (@netblocks) July 16, 2020
Two days later the government seemingly gave into the pressure of the popular campaign, suspending the executions.
Prisoners after protests
The government claims evidence on the phones of the three young men show them setting fire to banks, buses, and public buildings during the November demonstrations.
Iran’s judiciary spokesperson accused them of being “riot leaders,” according to Amnesty International.
Despite Iran cracking down hard on protesters in November – with over 1,5000 people killed during the first two weeks according to Reuters – demonstrations erupted again in January after the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)’s downing of a Ukrainian civilian airliner.
Mary Mohammadi, 21, joined one evening protest in Tehran’s Azadi square on January 12. She told Al Arabiya English that Iranian officers arrested and abused her.
“Suddenly I was attacked from behind and was arrested after taking a severe beating,” Mohammadi said in an interview with Al Arabiya English.
She now faces a sentence of flogging and three months in prison.
State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said last week it was “troubled” by Mohammadi’s sentencing.
“The Iranian regime continues to violate the human rights of its own people, targeting political and civil society activists,” Ortagus told Al Arabiya English.
Two other participants in January’s protests have also been sentenced to prison time.
Mostafa Hashemizadeh, an engineering student at the University of Tehran, was sentenced in May to five years in prison for allegedly “colluding against national security,” in addition to a year in prison and 74 lashes for “disturbing public order.”
Amir Mohammad Sharifi, another student at the university, was sentenced to three months in prison for his alleged involvement.