Iran protester faces death 'for giving away chocolate and hugs'

Iranian student faces death penalty after giving away ‘chocolates and hugs’ during protests – as he is found guilty of ‘waging war against God’

  • Mohammed Nasiri, 21, facing death penalty for ‘waging war against God’ after he was forced to confess to violently attacking a pro-regime militiaman 
  • Friends say his only crime was handing out hugs and chocolate to demonstrators
  • Iran has already sentenced two other protesters to death on similar charges 

An Iranian man who handed out hugs and free chocolate to anti-regime protesters is facing the death penalty after being found guilty of ‘waging war against God’.

Mohammed Nasiri, 21, was arrested in the city of Qazvin, to the west of Tehran, last month while giving support and snacks to demonstrators along with three others.

Police tased and arrested him before friends say he was tortured into giving a false confession that he had stabbed a member of pro-regime militia forces with a knife.

He is now facing a possible death sentence, after Iran hanged two other male protesters who were forced to confess to similar crimes.

Mohammed Nasiri, 21, is facing a possible death penalty for taking part in protests that have been happening across Iran (file image) by handing out hugs and free chocolates

Iran’s ruling mullahs are starting to crack down on protests that have been taking place nationwide since September calling for an end to their rule.

Nasiri’s friends recounted his plight to IranWire, who said they had joined the street protests early on and decided to hand out hugs and chocolate to people.

Vahid, a member of the group, said: ‘In our opinion, this was the most peaceful way to protest the existing situation. We were often encouraged by people.’

But on November 12, one passer-by warned the group they were being watched by plainclothes police officers.

They tried to pack up and leave, but were chased by officers – one of whom hit Nasiri with an electric stun gun which caused him to fall to the floor.

The group say Nasiri was beaten by three or four people before his ‘half-dead’ body was dragged away.

When the group next saw Nasiri, they said he had been beaten so badly by cops that his face was unrecognisable.

Shortly afterwards, local media began circulating a ‘confession’ that Nasiri had given saying he had stabbed a member of the pro-regime Basij militia – which has been involved in violently repressing the protests.

Images were also circulated of a man with his legs in bandages who claims to be the man Nasiri stabbed. His friends say this is a fiction.

Majidreza Rahnavard was executed in public on Monday in Iran on a charge of ‘waging war against God’ after what activists say was a sham trial

Iranian security officers guard a crowd of people who turned out to watch the execution of Rahnavard in the city of Mashhad early today

Now, he is languishing in jail charged with ‘waging war against God’ – a crime used by the regime to describe anyone they see as a threat to the state.

The penalty for such a crime is death.

Iran has already killed two people charged with the same offence, including Majidreza Rahnavard who was hanged from a construction crane earlier this week.

Rahnavard was charged with fatally stabbing two members of Basij militia.

But human rights activists say he was brought to court without a lawyer and bearing signs of torture. Iranian state media say he confessed.

Iran’s Mizan news agency, which falls under the country’s judiciary, published a collage of images of Rahnavard hanging from the crane, his hands and feet bound, a black bag over his head.

Masked security force members stood guard in front of concrete and metal barriers that held back a gathered crowd early Monday morning in the Iranian city of Mashhad.

Executions conducted in public with a crane have been rare in recent years, though Iran used the same manner of hanging to put down unrest following the disputed 2009 presidential election and the Green Movement protests that followed.

Typically, those condemned are alive as the crane lifts them off their feet, hanging by a rope and struggling to breathe before they asphyxiate or their neck breaks.

Rahnavard was accused of carrying out his attack – in which four militiamen were said to have been injured – in the city of Mashhad last month.

Mohsen Shekari was hanged last week, becoming the first person to be executed since protests broke out in Iran back in September

Iranian authorities, which did not give a motive for the attack, say he was then caught trying to flee the country on November 19.

Mohsen Shekari, 23, was sentenced to death for allegedly blocking a street and wounding a security guard at the start of the protests.

Shekari was charged with ‘waging war against God’ after the Iranian regime said he blocked Sattar Khan Boulevard on September 25 during a riot in Tehran and ‘stabbed the left shoulder of a Basiji’, the official IRNA news agency reported.

‘Mohsen gave his life for freedom. He wanted a normal life. One more brave soul killed by this bloody regime,’ said Masih Alinejad, an Iranian journalist and campaigner, who posted a photo on Twitter she claimed was Shekari.

The execution comes as other detainees also face possible death penalty for their involvement in the protests, which began first as an outcry against Iran’s morality police and have expanded into one of the most serious challenges to Iran’s theocracy since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Activists warn others could be put to death as well soon, with at least a dozen people receiving death sentences over their involvement in the demonstrations.

Haidar al-Zaidi, 20, was sentenced to three years over a tweet of disputed origin deemed insulting to a pro-Iran ex-paramilitary force, according to court documents seen by AFP.

Amnesty International said it obtained a document signed by one senior Iranian police commander asking an execution for one prisoner be ‘completed ‘in the shortest possible time’ and that his death sentence be carried out in public as ‘a heart-warming gesture towards the security forces.”

The organisation last month condemned the ‘chilling use of the death penalty’ to suppress the protests. 

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