Take Action – What Can You Do?
How Do We Stop the Executions?
In November of 2022, as part of a symbolic act to stand up for freedom, a young couple in their early 20’s, Astiyazh Haghighi and her fiancé, Amir Mohammad Ahmadi, took a video of themselves dancing in front of the Azadi (freedom) Tower in Tehran. The video went viral. On January 31, 2023 they were sentenced to 10 years and six months imprisonment each, for dancing in the streets and for not wearing the proper head covering.
The demonstrations which began over 4 months ago in Iran, in an effort to bring justice for the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, have captured the world’s attention. Artists, activists, politicians, and people from across the world have joined in the choir of woman, life, freedom, donned the colors of Iran’s flag, participated in the symbolic cutting of strands of hair, and performed moving artistic renditions of the struggles of the people of Iran.
There is great value in these heartfelt acts and gestures of solidarity and support. They undoubtedly have provided some semblance of consolation for the people of Iran. They should not be stopped. However, they are not enough. The Islamic Republic of Iran is shameless in its unapologetic and brutal attacks against its own citizens. From sentencing young couples to 10 years of imprisonment for dancing to handing down of death sentences, the IRI has tried to quash any acts of dissension and close off both the public and private space of discourse.
To date 4 protestors have been executed and according to independent human rights organizations 110 protestors are under the impending threat of death sentences. We can’t just stand by and watch as these death sentences are carried out and young voices of dissent are silenced forever.
What is needed now, more than ever, is a strategy that sends a message to Tehran, that democracies across the world will not stand by and watch this regime’s violent suppression of its citizens. This strategy can cover everything from the sanctioning of perpetrators of human rights violations, to revoking entry, study and business visas from family members of responsible Iranian officials, to a unified diplomatic front in expulsion of the IRI from key international forums, and capitals. As the IRI has suffocated the public space for discourse and civil society engagement for its citizens, the world too must respond by limiting access to the global space for the perpetrators of these violent crimes and their families. #stoptheexecutions
Situation Updates – As of January 9, 2023
- At least 481 people including 64 children and 35 women have been killed by security forces in the current nationwide protests. Of the 64 children, nine were girls. They were all under 18 years of age. (These numbers only relate to protests in the streets and not those executed and those that have died under suspicious circumstances)
- To date, 4 young men have been executed in connection with the nationwide protests that erupted in Iran four months ago, while 18 other people have been sentenced to death.
- At least 109 protesters are currently at risk of execution, death penalty charges, or sentences.
- The Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) demonstrates intensification of repression through arbitrary arrests, physical torture, sexual assault and rape in detention and the mass issuance of sentences. The growing number of reports point to a systematic policy by the government as opposed to isolated incidents.
- There are reports of widespread arrests taking place in Sistan and Baluchistan, latest count reaching 100.
What’s going on, and what’s at stake?
Iran’s women and girls are risking everything to secure their fundamental rights – for themselves, and for everyone in Iran. Their protests were sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who died at the hands of Iran’s so-called “morality” police because of the way she wore her headscarf.
The Baluchi minority have born the brunt of the vicious crackdowns by the security forces during the uprisings
As many as 15,000 people, including journalists, activists, lawyers and educators, have been arrested since protests erupted in Iran in mid-September and the Iranian law makers are asking for swift and certain punishments (which could include death sentences) for the protestors. Close to 2,000 people have been charged according to Iran’s judicial authorities
The government has since sentenced the first protester to death, and more are in line to be met with the same fate, including 3 children. Upwards of 15,000 protesters could be subject to the death penalty after 227 of the 290-member parliament called on the judiciary to impose the death penalty on the demonstrators.
The government in Iran has largely cut off access to the internet and banned social media sites including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, WhatsApp, Telegram, and Skype. Despite this, girls are still fighting and taking to the streets. Across the world, 877 cities and universities are staging protests in support of Iran’s girls.
What is FUTURES Doing?
FUTURES’ own Director of International Policy and Advocacy, Leila Milani uses her expertise as a previous Expert on Iran at the Department of Defense to offer context and lead action on the issue.
- Petition: FUTURES asked President Biden to do what is within his power, and 1) Ask to remove Iran from the Commission on the Status of Women at the UN and 2) Call for the Islamic republic of Iran to be held accountable for extreme violence.
- Since the start of this campaign and the protests, and the closing of the petition, Iran has been removed from the UN Commission on the Status of Women and a special investigation on human rights violations has been launched.
- Blogs: Milani has also written three blog posts setting context on the situation as an expert in international gender-based violence policy, as a mother to a teenage daughter, and a blog about the recent increases in imprisonment and executions of protesters.
- Social Media: The people protesting in Iran have asked for the rest of the world to support them by amplifying their voices. We are listening, and amplifying their messages across social media channels. We are spreading awareness and letting Iranian girls know we have their back as they ask for freedom under threat of bullets, batons, and prison bars.