Iran hanged two men Monday on charges relating to blasphemy as summary executions continue to rise following months of unrest across the Islamic Republic.
Death sentences issued over blasphemy remain rare in Iran despite the more than 200 executions Tehran has carried out this year alone, reported the Norway-based Iran Human Rights.
Yousef Mehrad and Sadrollah Fazeli Zare were executed at the Arak Prison in central Iran after being arrested in May 2020 for their participation on a Telegram channel dubbed “Critique of Superstition and Religion,” according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
It is unclear what exactly the two men wrote on the messaging channel, but both were forced to face months of solitary confinement and were barred from contacting their families.
According to Iran’s judiciary Mizan news agency, the men were arrested for allegedly insulting Islam’s Prophet Mohammed and claimed they burned a Quran.
Tehran has ratcheted up its executions over the last year following unrest that broke out in September over women’s rights issues after Mahsa Amini, 22, was beaten and arrested by Iran’s morality police that claimed she was improperly wearing her hijab.
Amini later succumbed to her injuries, sparking fury across Iran and prompting massive protests against the regime.
As of March 2023, Iranian authorities have reportedly admitted that at least 22,000 people have been arrested in connection with the protests, hundreds have been killed and dozens sentenced to death.
According to Amnesty International, thousands of minors are estimated to have been subjected to the same kind of torture as adults arrested in coordination to the protests, and have not only endured harsh living conditions in their detentions but “beatings, flogging[s], electric shocks, rape and other sexual violence” against children as young as 12 years old.
Unfair trials, gross human rights violations and summary executions have become increasingly common in Iran since December, when the first execution in relation to the women’s rights protests was carried out.
The director of the Iran Human Rights group condemned the Monday executions as being of a “medieval nature” and said, “The international community must show with its reaction that executions for expressing an opinion is intolerable.”
“The refusal of the international community to react decisively is a green light for the Iranian government and all their like-minded people around the world,” he added in a statement.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.