The parents of a young man who has been warned by human rights groups to face execution for his involvement in Iran’s protest movement have released a video of them begging the judiciary to spare their son’s life.
Their call for the life of Mehdi Mohammad Karami comes as Amnesty International warns that at least 26 people are at risk of execution over the protests, the biggest challenge facing authorities since Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution.
Iran sparked global outrage by executing two protesters earlier this month.
The Islamic Republic has announced 11 death sentences in connection with the demonstrations, which it calls “riots” and blames “foreign enemies” in the West. The authorities issued the death penalty for sometimes deadly violence, including against members of the security forces.
Rights groups say legal processes have been speeded up. They are concerned that detainees have been tortured and forced to confess.
“I am Mashallah Karami, father of Mohammad Mehdi Karami,” the father said in the video circulating on social media, sitting cross-legged on a carpet and flanked by his wife.
He described his son as a “karate champion” who had won national competitions and was a member of the national team.
“I respectfully ask the judiciary, I beseech you please, I ask you… to remove the death penalty from my son’s case.”
His wife, her arms folded as if cradling a baby, then speaks to also ask for the death penalty to be revoked.
– Deprived of lawyer –
According to Amnesty, Karami is one of five people sentenced to death for the fatal attack on a member of the Basij militia during a funeral ceremony for a protester in the Tehran town of Karaj.
It said he was sentenced less than a week “after beginning an accelerated unfair class trial that did not resemble a meaningful legal proceeding.”
Mashallah Karami had told Iranian media that a family lawyer had no access to his son’s case and that a court-appointed lawyer did not respond to the family’s repeated calls.
Karami’s age has not been disclosed, but reports on pro-protest social media channels suggested he is in his early 20s, as are the two men who have already been executed.
According to social media reports, Karami’s father found out about the death sentence in a phone call from his son, who had asked that his mother have nothing to say.
Rights groups have accused Iran of using the death penalty as a weapon to intimidate the population and suppress protests that erupted three months ago over the death in custody of Mahsa Amini.
She had been arrested by the morality police for allegedly violating the country’s strict female dress code.
Iran has unleashed a crackdown with around 14,000 people arrested, according to the UN, and 469 protesters killed, according to Norway-based Iran Human Rights (IHR).
In early December, the country’s top security body reported more than 200 deaths, including security officers.
The two Iranian journalists Niloufar Hamedi and Elahe Mohammadi who helped expose Amini’s case by reporting from the hospital and her funeral, respectively, have been detained since September.
The two women have now been transferred from Tehran’s Evin Prison to Qarchak Prison outside the capital, where conditions have regularly caused concern among human rights defenders, their families announced this weekend.