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Sham Trial, Public Hanging: The Method To Iran's "Exemplary" Execution Of Protester

By executing a protester after a rapid trial, Iran's clerical regime has taken its clampdown on the once-in-a-generation uprising to a new level. Observers fear there are more to come soon.

Photo of protesters holding photographs

Protesters against the Iranian regime at the Hague



Iranians were infuriated by the Islamic judiciary's execution Thursday morning of a 23-year-old protester, Mohsen Shekari. Opposition media and Iranians on social media called it murder. The public hanging, on charges that Shekari took part in the stabbing of a state agent in Tehran, showed the regime is hellbent on crushing weeks of protests and silencing calls for regime change.

Shekari was arrested in protests in downtown Tehran on Sept. 25, and convicted of having injured a state security agent with a knife. The formal charges against him — and various other jailed protesters — was "waging war on God" a part of the Iranian penal code that is punishable by death, though he barely was afforded minimal legal proceedings. According to reports, Shekari was not given the right to select his own lawyer, nor was he given a chance to defend himself at the sentencing trial.

An informed source told Kayhan-London that when a lawyer sought to take up Shekari's defense, prosecutors told him Shekari had waived his right to choose a lawyer. So the court assigned him one who was no doubt obedient to the judiciary.

There were various discrepancies in the case. The state agent stabbed in Tehran that day was reportedly wearing nothing to indicate his status as law enforcement — although he was busy beating demonstrators — nor was there even evidence to prove that Shekari had stabbed him.

But in today's Iran, such details, due process or apparent discrepancies can quickly become trifling matters.

A warning to all Iranians

The state wanted to carry out an exemplary execution as a warning to all Iranians. On Dec. 5, the head of the judiciary, Gholam-Hussein Mohseni-Ejei had announced that death sentences given to multiple protesters convicted of "waging war on God" and "spreading corruption in the land" were confirmed and would soon be carried out. He admitted these had been processed in a "very, very short time."

The execution has also raised the alarm among families of other detainees. Relatives of three of them, Hamid Qarahasanlu, Ali Moazzami-Gudarzi and Saman Yasin, feared their executions could happen within days.

Not that the regime requires the formality of an execution to rid itself of people. These protests began in September with the death in custody of a woman, Mahsa Amini. Similarly, on Dec. 8 there were reports of another detainee, Shademan Ahmadi, dying inside a police station in Dehgolan, in Kurdish-inhabited western Iran.

Photo of  Iran's President EBRAHIM RAISI at Tehran University surrounded by other officials

Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi at Tehran University on Wednesday, surrounded by other regime officials

Iranian Presidency via ZUMA

Consequences for Iran's regime

Reactions abroad to the execution have been arguably measured. States and world agencies duly condemned it and asked the regime to stop further executions. The UN's rapporteur for rights in Iran, Javaid Rehman, told Voice of America on Dec. 8 that Iranians must send the agency any evidence they had of rights violations in Iran in recent weeks for a subsequent UN inquiry. Iranian authorities have already scoffed at any such inquiry.

The NGO Iran Human Rights urged Western states to show Iran "serious consequences" beyond condemnations. Two exiled well-known personalities, the jurist and Nobel prizewinner Shirin Ebadi and the crown prince Reza Pahlavi, urged them to expel Iran's diplomats. This has been a demand of opponents for weeks now, though Western states have demurred.

Iran's authorities have vowed more firmness. President Ibrahim Raisi has reportedly promised a continuation of this "decisive" response in spite of foreign condemnations, saying that in time "the hullabaloo will die down." One senior cleric, Ahmad Khatami, thanked the judiciary for the execution.

Late on Dec. 8 in parts of Tehran, people were heard chanting "Death to the Dictator," referring to the country's supreme leader. Other acts of defiance were also reported that night. The London-based broadcaster Iran International reported on calls by activists to march in protest in Tehran on Dec. 10.

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As COVID Explodes, An Inside Look At China's Gray Market Of Generic Drugs

COVID infections have skyrocketed since China eased restrictions as public health policy has not been able to keep up. Unable to find medications, many have turned to generic drugs of questionable safety. It's the culmination of a longstanding problem.

Photo of a pharmarcist walking past shelves with medication in Yucheng, northern China

A pharmacy in Yucheng, northern China

Xian Zhu and Feiyu Xiang

BEIJING — When her grandfather joined the millions of infected Chinese, Chen quickly decided to buy COVID-19 drugs to limit the effects of the virus. She woke up early to shop on Jingdong, one of China’s biggest online shopping websites, but failed in snatching the limited daily stocks made available.

Fearing COVID's effect on her grandfather, who suffers from dementia, she contacted an independent drug agent and bought a box of generic pharmaceuticals.

With China having suddenly ended its zero-COVID policy, infections have peaked. According to the latest estimates by Airfinity, a British medical information and analysis company, severe COVID outbreaks happened over Chinese New Year with 62 million infections forecast for the second half of January.

In a press conference held by China's State Council on Jan. 11, COVID-19 pills were mentioned as part of the new epidemic control mechanisms. In late 2021, Pfizer developed Paxlovid, the world's first potent COVID drug, with one 100 mg white ritonavir and two 150 mg light pink nirmatrelvir tablets taken every 12 hours. China imported the first batch of Paxlovid for clinical use in March 2022 and included it in the ninth edition of the treatment protocol.

But the first 21,200 boxes of Paxlovid were dispersed to only eight provinces, and no further information is available on where the drug ended up and how much it was used.

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