A group of Iranian female political prisoners incarcerated in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison have held a protest against the recent execution of three protesters and the state’s increasing usage of the death penalty, which has been widely criticized by rights groups and governments around the world.
According to reports on social media accounts published on May 23, some of the most well-known female political prisoners, including Sepideh Gholian, Bahareh Hedayat, Faezeh Hashemi, and Narges Mohammadi, participated in a rare political protest inside the prison, with each issuing statements condemning the wave of executions.
Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, another prisoner, said: “The female political prisoners of Evin Prison held a ceremony on Saturday [May 20] in the women’s ward courtyard to protest the recent executions, including the execution of two people in Arak Prison on charges of blasphemy, and the three recent executions in Isfahan.”
Iraee, who in April was sentenced to seven years in prison for crimes “against the regime,” said that “the nature of this regime is to physically eliminate its opponents, critics, and those who protest against its policies. Our silence is an endorsement of the shamelessness of the perpetrators and complicit in sharpening the blades of the gallows.”
It was not clear whether the women were punished for the protest.
Iran’s judiciary, at the urging of senior leaders, has taken a hard-line stance against protesters demonstrating against the September death of Mahsa Amini. The 22-year-old died while in police custody in Tehran after being detained for allegedly wearing a head scarf improperly.
The incident ignited anger across the country, prompting tens of thousands — led by women and students — to take to the streets demanding more freedoms. The harsh response by security agents has intensified the protests, with many calling for Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameni to step down.
So far, Iranian authorities have executed at least seven protesters, including the three on May 19.
Human rights activist Mohammadi said the government “is exacting revenge on the revolutionary movement in a brutal way by executing and killing people.”
“Iran of 2023 is not Iran of the 1980s. If the purpose of executions in the 80s was to create fear, horror, and suppress different currents and trends, the recent executions will have the opposite effect,” she said.
The Norway-based Iran Human Rights group says that so far this year at least 275 people have been executed in Iran, including at least 90 in the last three weeks, making May the “bloodiest month” in the country in the last five years.
Labor activist Gholian, arrested earlier this month for publicly criticizing Ali Khamenei shortly after she had been released from prison after serving , said during the gathering of political activists: “Our mission is now clearer. They will leave before all the oil wells run out. We will passionately dance in our homeland.”
Vida Rabbani, Nasrin Khazri Javadi, Shakila Manfred, Zohreh Sarv, and Mahvash Shahriari were other prominent political prisoners who participated in the gathering inside the prison.