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Iran conducts first executions over 2009 post-election unrest

Iran executed by hanging on Monday two protesters involved in the anti-government demonstrations that erupted after the 2009 presidential elections [JURIST news archive]. The hangings are reported as the first executions involving activists that were arrested and detained after the disputed elections. The two men, Jafar Kazemi and Mohammadali Hajaghaie, members of exiled opposition group, Mujahideen Khalq Organization (MKO), were convicted for their involvement in creating and distributing photos and films [IRNA report, in Persian] of the revolution and street protests. The hangings follow a plea [press release] by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in August to stop the executions and to respect fundamental freedoms, especially the rights of expression. Iranian authorities claim that their decision to execute Kazemi and Hajaghaje was not grounded on fundamental rights but on the dangers that the members of MKO posed to the government.The MKO is allegedly responsible for activities involving former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and numerous terrorist attacks and assassinations of significant figures and civilians.

The Iranian government has faced significant international scrutiny for its handling of the post-election protests and treatment of thousands arrested as a result. Aside from the repeated pleas form the US, Amnesty International labeled human rights violations committed by the Iranian government following the election among the worst of the past 20 years [JURIST report]. Human rights groups have also called on the UN General Assembly [official website] to appoint a special envoy [JURIST report] to investigate allegations of rights violations. Alleged human rights abuses of detainees include sexual assault, beatings and forced confessions [JURIST reports]. Many of those detained after the protests have been freed, but more than 80 have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms and five have been sentenced to death.

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