A Kurdish cleric from the Kurdish city of Bukan in western Iran (Rojhelat) was sentenced to death on charges related to his support for the antigovernment protests that engulfed Iran in 2022 following the death of Mahsa Zhina Amini.

Mohammed Khezrnejad, 45, received the death penalty after being charged with “corruption on earth,” Hengaw Organization for Human Rights reported on Saturday. The verdict was announced by the Islamic Revolutionary Court in Urmia, West Azerbaijan province.

Twenty-two-year-old Kurdish woman Amini died while in police custody on September 16, 2022. She had been arrested for allegedly wearing a lax hijab. Her death sparked nationwide protests that posed the biggest threat to the Iranian regime in 40 years. Protesters chanting “Jin Jiyan Azadi” (Woman Life Freedom) began by calling for greater freedoms, the movement grew into an anti-government revolution as the authorities responded with violence. Hundreds of people were killed and thousands arrested.

The movement originated in Rojhelat and was quick to spread to the rest of the country. At the peak of the protests in November 2022, Khezrnejad, along with 452 other clerics, released a statement in support of the demonstrations.

The cleric was arrested the same month after attending the funeral of Asad Rahimi, a 30-year-old man killed at the hands of Iranian security forces during the protests. There, Khezrnejad delivered a speech criticizing the heavy-handed treatment of protesters by authorities.

In a video obtained by Rudaw, the cleric can be heard supporting the protesters.

“Martyrs do not belong to one family,” Khezrnejad can be heard telling the crowd, “Those who sacrifice their lives for the freedom and dignity of their people and nation, they are the sons of the nation, they hold their heads high and it is God’s promise that martyrs will not die.”

He was also handed a 15 year prison sentence for “harming the territorial integrity and independence of the country,” according to Hengaw, as well as an additional year for “propaganda against the regime.”

The watchdog added that he was denied the right to legal representation during the trial.

Iran is consistently one of the countries with the highest rate of known executions around the world. Many of those who are executed in Iran are convicted based on confessions condemned by rights groups as often obtained under duress.

Source » rudaw