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HomeIran Human RightsStop executions in IranCan Khamenei Quell Iran's Restive Society through Executions?

Can Khamenei Quell Iran’s Restive Society through Executions?

iran protesters death row court
2022 uprising protesters sentenced to death in a sham court

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Recent figures reveal a chilling reality: the Iranian regime executed a minimum of 99 individuals in the month of Dey alone (December 22, 2023 – January 20, 2024). Over the past 10 days, that number surged to 26. Yet, these are only the disclosed statistics, leaving the true toll of executions shrouded in secrecy. This raises critical questions: Why has the regime escalated executions so cruelly? What is the underlying motive behind these grave acts?

In recent months, particularly amidst the outbreak of conflict in the Middle East, executions have soared to over a hundred per month, totaling 416 since October. This surge isn’t mere happenstance; it’s rooted in the regime’s deep-seated fear of an impending revolution. Recognizing the powder keg of discontent simmering within society, the regime intensifies its campaign of intimidation and suppression, especially amid the backdrop of strategic setbacks in the region.

The 2022 uprising rattled the regime to its core, revealing fissures in its grip on power. Instead of addressing the grievances fueling dissent, the regime has doubled down on repression. Dissatisfaction with the ruling apparatus and widespread corruption have only exacerbated public anger. Thus, resorting to executions becomes Khamenei’s tool of survival, evident in the diverse demographics of those condemned.

The brunt of executions falls heavily on Baluchis, reflecting the deep-seated grievances festering in Sistan and Baluchestan province. According to a statement by the Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), “out of the 864 prisoners executed in 2023, 191 individuals, or more than 22%, were Baluchis.” Economic disenfranchisement and discrimination have fomented unrest, with sporadic clashes erupting and opposition groups targeting regime forces.

Following Sistan and Baluchestan province, Kurdistan emerges as a significant security concern for the regime, primarily due to the rebellious spirit of its populace. During the 2022 uprising, Kurdistan stood out as the epicenter of activism and resistance, making it a focal point for regime scrutiny and suppression. Consequently, the regime has targeted Kurdistan with a vengeance, resulting in a high number of executions surpassing other regions and provinces.

The increased targeting of women underscores their pivotal role in last year’s protests, prompting the regime’s vindictive response. Executing female prisoners is aimed at sending a chilling message to women actively challenging the status quo.

Since the past year, numerous protesters, including individuals like Mohsen Shekari, Majidreza Rahnavard, and Mohammad Ghobadlou faced execution on charges of assaulting security forces. Through these harsh actions, Khamenei aims to send an alarming message to Iran’s defiant youth: any form of resistance or challenge to the existing system will be met with the most severe consequences.

However, despite the surge in executions over the past few months, daily protests by various segments of society persisted. The rise of Resistance Units signals a populace unyielding in their demand for change. Economic grievances have morphed into political demands, with calls for regime change reverberating nationwide since 2017.

Since 2017, whenever protests evolved into widespread uprisings, slogans initially focused on economic grievances swiftly evolved into political demands, with calls for regime change reverberating across the entire nation louder than ever before.

Ultimately, Khamenei and his cohorts find themselves embroiled in a battle they are destined to lose. While the regime has everything at stake, it is confronted by a restless and increasingly aggrieved population stripped of social rights, political freedoms, and economic prospects, with practically nothing left to lose.