A Twitter hashtag that conquered the world was in Persian, #اعدام_نکنید, with more than 6 million tweets in 48 hours and 12 million in a week. It started by an unprecedented unity among Iranians from different social and political backgrounds, wanting to save the lives of 3 unarmed protesters who were sentenced to death. The circumstances of their trial have been scrutinized since the beginning with their attorneys not having full access to the case and many vague and contradictory statements by officials about their charges. Apart from that, Amir Hossein Moradi, Saeed Tamjidi and Mohammad Rajabi were tortured physically and mentally to confess to crimes they had not committed. Moradi said so several times during the trial but apparently had no effect on Abolqasem Salavati, the notorious “executioner” of Islamic Revolutionary Courts. It implied that the decision have been made before the trial even began, because they didn’t get to defend themselves and their appointed attorneys would defend the judge instead of their clients; their Appeals court session had taken only a few minutes.
This has always been the case for Islamic Republic Judiciary, its Revolutionary and Supreme Courts. In summer of 1988, a group of “judges” and intelligence agents were given an order by Ruhollah Khomeini to execute the opposition including leftists. Without due process, if they were dissidents of Islamic Republic and didn’t recant, got executed, amounting to thousands of people. In an audio file from Khomeini’s successor at the time, Hossein Ali Montazeri, reveals some facts about that summer! According to him, Mostafa Pourmohammadi, a member of Ministry of Intelligence, was in charge of everything. Even when judges in counties had given some of these people 5 years or 10 years in prison, suddenly they were on death row, just because the “death squad” thought it was the best for the “revolution”. Montazeri even recalls a case in which a 15 year old sister of one of these prisoners was executed, just because she was sister of an opposition member! Nothing has changed in the past 4 decades. Still, intelligence agencies, whether IRGC or MOIS, are the ones giving the verdicts and sentences rather than fair courts.
Islamic Republic of Deceits
The “Do Not Execute” message was to pressure the Islamic Republic Judiciary to quash these three young men’s execution, whom their only crime was to participate in Nov 2019 nationwide protests, and getting a camera off the hands of a plain-clothed officer who was filming protesters for later identification and possible arrests. While their execution had its own “defenders”, a day after this Twitterstorm, on July 15, Dr Babak Paknia, one of the attorneys on the case, announced they were given permission to review the case. The officials excuse for not giving them access before was that the attorneys had not provided their “certificate” as a lawyer, which was absurd. According to Article 48 of Code of Criminal Procedures, accused in security crimes can only choose from a preapproved list of lawyers whom Judiciary Chief has confirmed!
On July 19, Paknia tweeted that their “request to review the case” has been accepted by the Supreme Court! On the same day, all state-owned or affiliated websites and media chose to ignore the “request” and so every other media outlet deemed this Twitterstorm as a success and moved on to the next “hype”. Even United States Department of State Spokesperson, Morgan Ortagus, seems to have misunderstood the situation.
In fact, the Judiciary Chief, Ebrahim Raisi, a member of the “death squad”, firmly rejected the social movement’s effect on Judiciary procedures, claiming mainly “some bots” and anti Islamic Republic trolls participated in the multi-million tweet campaign of human morality. He even said some of the revolutionaries may have been “tricked” into joining this phenomenon because they didn’t know the details of the case!
Gholamhossein Esmaeili, Judiciary Spokesman, broke it down for us even further. The man who had announced Amir Hossein, Saeed, and Mohammad’s sentence confirmation in a press conference, went on TV and explained “Article 474 of the Criminal Code” used by attorneys to “temporarily” hold the execution, clearly. According to him, using this Code means the Supreme Court would decide whether to review the case or not, if it does, the case would be sent to another court for review. But the point is, the Supreme Court hasn’t decided so as of this writing and it has just “accepted” to see if it requires another set of eyes. Apart from that, he gave a staggering stat as well, less than 15% of more than 4,000 “Article 474 requests Supreme Court received in the past 4 months” have been granted review. He describes all of this a “very accepted norm” in the Islamic Republic Judicial system.
Breaking Their Own Laws
While the Islamic Republic media have confused the world with their semantics, calmed the storm and prevented another spark for another uprising like November 2019, the Judiciary will move forward with whatever they’re “supposed” to do, according to intelligence apparatus decisions. They could kill them and hide the facts for a while, pressuring the family into denying everything and so many other evil acts that 41-year history of Islamic Republic has proven to us. Hedayat Abdollahpour or Ali Kazemi or tens other come to mind immediately.
Hedayat was arrested in June 2016, was tortured for 3 months in IRGC intelligence detention center in Uromiyeh and received death sentence in January 2017 and on May 11, 2020 was shot to death by firing squad in prison without his family knowing. His father followed up his case at court and was told by authorities “his sentence was carried out 20 days ago.” His death certificate mentions the cause as “Hit by solid and sharp objects.” They still haven’t told his family where he’s buried. His family had been under so much pressure that his mom tried to self-immolate herself in front of Uromiyeh Revolutionary Court on January 31, 2019.
Ali Kazemi was 15 years old in March 2011 when arrested for stabbing a man to death in a fight. He was hanged on January 30, 2018 in a prison in Bushehr province. His family were not informed either, while Islamic Republic “laws” clearly state the condemned’s family should be informed and present during execution of the sentence. His family were called on January 30, reassured that execution was not carried out, but later that day, in another call, they were told their son was hanged! (1)
Movement Should Continue
Islamic Republic does anything to prolong its miserable life even for a few days, and intimidating its own people have been a working tactic in the past, so they would continue doing it until they’re stopped by the people. At the end of the day, #اعدام_نکنید does not belong to a specific group or political activists. It’s about the inhumane, immoral, unjust Islamic Republic’s courts and its entire Judiciary system which is run by “revolutionaries” in the brutal monstrous intelligence community. “Do Not Execute” message should continue until everybody in the world knows the corrupt nature of the Islamic Republic regime which allows itself to take away lives of innocent people more often than not!
The Twitterstorm was successful in backing authorities to a corner, forcing them to postpone and think twice about whatever they wanted to do but it’s not the cure to bloodthirsty rulers of Iran. The main goal of social movements like this, is to motivate the sleeping section of the population whom have been desensitized with bombarding bad news every day for decades. Spontaneous, widespread #اعدام_نکنید should not stop, it increases the price the brutal theocratic regime has to pay for its cruelty, it should continue until all political prisoners are released unconditionally.
(1) Amnesty International. 2018 Annual Report on Executions in Iran. p.18
Cover: Tamara Gore