By Donya Jam
News Blaze, February 26, 2017 - Executions and crackdown against Iran’s youth is increasingly on the rise. Many inmates in their 20’s and 30’s have been executed or killed during the past months, while hundreds have also been arrested or mistreated.
Dozens of prisoners have been hanged during the first two weeks of February, including a mass execution of 12 prisoners in Gohardasht Prison, west of Tehran, on Feb. 15. 13 inmates, including prisoners aged 29 and 30, were executed between Feb. 11-13 in the prisons of Qom, Zabol, Jiroft and Mashhad.
On Jan. 29, regime authorities publicly executed four prisoners in the cities of Bandar Abbas and Mashhad. These prisoners were all in their early to mid 20’s. Reports indicate 87 inmates were sent to the gallows in the month of January alone. Many of those executed never received due process and some were hanged while their cases were still open.
Hamid Ahmadi, a juvenile offender, has also been reported to be at imminent risk of hanging. The United Nations and prominent human rights organizations such as Amnesty International have been campaigning to halt his execution. 160 juveniles are on death row in Iran, according to the United Nations. The number, however, could be higher.
On Feb. 9 in Shadegan (Khuzestan Province in southwest Iran), state security forces shot and killed a young Iranian-Arab man named Hassan Ablu Ghabish.
Alongside hangings and killings, regime authorities are also continuously arresting and attacking youths for absurd reasons.
In Shiraz, a teenage girl celebrating her birthday along with friends was brutally beaten and arrested for wearing ripped jeans. Two young women were arrested in Dezful for riding a motorcycle. And hundreds have been arrested between 2016 and January 2017 for attending mixed-gender parties. In some instances, the regime has also brutally punished the arrestees.
Back in May 2016, Iranian authorities arrested and flogged 30 students for attending a mixed-gender graduation party. Their flogging sentence was implemented within 24 hours of their arrest. Each student received 99 lashes.
Iran executes young man at a football field.
Imprisonment for attending mixed-gender parties continues. It was reported on Jan. 28 that another 13 boys and girls were arrested in Gilan Province, northern Iran.
One may ask why is the regime increasingly targeting youths? If we recall the 2009 nationwide anti-government uprising in Iran, the youth took the forefront of the demonstrations. They played one of the most significant roles throughout the protests. Therefore, the regime is using suppression as a method to spread fear in society in order to prevent the youths from uprising.
And part of the reason why the regime is heavily cracking down on parties and get-togethers is because they fear people’s gatherings could turn into anti-government uprisings. The regime is doing everything in its power to prevent a reoccurrence of the 2009 demonstrations.
Now that reform in Iran has been proven to be nothing but a myth, another question that may be asked is what is the true solution to bring an end to the suffering of Iran’s youth? This is where Iranian youth activists want their voices heard by the international community. They want to see an end to deals and negotiations with the regime, and instead yearn for the international community to recognize the Iranian people’s aspirations for freedom and democracy.
Sourosh Abouthalebi, an Iranian student in Belgium majoring in political science, expressed his deep concern about the executions. He called on the international community to end economic deals with Iran because the continuation of such agreements signals to the regime’s leaders to carry on with their human rights violations.
“Trading with this regime without raising any human rights concerns is perceived as a green light by this regime for even more executions,” he said.
Abouthalebi added that countries should instead support the Iranian people.
“Each country has a unique opportunity to place itself alongside the Iranian people. Iranians will never forget those that have stood up for the rights of the Iranian people during the darkest period of Iran’s history,” he concluded.
Afshin Motevalli, an Iranian student studying pedagogy at the University of Oslo said the international community should end relations with Iran.
“I ask the international community to stop the appeasement vis-a-vis the Iranian regime. The regime in Iran gives nothing back to its people nor the international community other than terrorism, suppression, executions, and destruction,” he said.
Motevalli also mentioned that the world community should support regime change in Iran by the people and their resistance movement, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).
“The international community should support the Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), as well as the millions of men and women in Iran longing for freedom and democracy,” Motevalli added.
“Regime change is the only method to end suppression, torture and executions, and regime change is the only path to democracy, equality, freedom and harmony,” he finalized.
Iran’s youth are oppressed. They yearn for freedom and justice. The only way to bring an end to the executions and suppression of youth is through democratic regime change. Therefore, the international community should end all deals with Iran and instead support the Iranian opposition PMOI/MEK and people in their plight to establish freedom. This is the only way to put an end to the injustice and the only way the youth of Iran can be guaranteed a brighter, safer and hopeful future.
Ms. Donya Jam is an Iranian-American Christian and human rights activist. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Shenandoah University.