Iran hangs two activists from 2009 election demos

AFP – 24-01-2011 – TEHRAN — Iran hanged on Monday two activists it said were members of an exiled group and who had joined protests against the result of the 2009 presidential poll, despite Washington urging that they be freed.

The executions were the first reported hangings of protesters who took to the streets in their thousands following the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a June 2009 election they said was rigged.

The Tehran prosecutor’s office named the pair as Jafar Kazemi and Mohammad Ali Hajaghaei. It did not say where they were hanged.

“Two elements of the Monafeghin (hypocrites) group named Jafar Kazemi… and Mohammad Ali Hajaghaei… were executed early today,” the prosecutor’s office said on its website, referring to the Iranian exiled opposition group, People’s Mujahedeen of Iran (PMOI).

On August 10, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had urged the Iranian authorities to release the two activists. The PMOI is, however, on Washington’s list of foreign terrorist organisations.

The prosecutor’s office said “these two hypocrites were members of an active network of the said group and were involved in the riots under the guidance of their ringleader in England.”

“The convicts had resorted to distributing pictures and banners related to the Monafeghins, taking photos and films of the clashes as well as chanting slogans in favour of the group.”

The 2009 presidential election result triggered widespread anti-government demonstrations in Tehran and some other cities.

Dozens of protesters were killed, scores wounded and thousands jailed when security forces clashed with them after the election result, which Ahmadinejad’s rivals claim was rigged in his favour.

Clinton had urged that those rounded up, including Kazemi and Hajaghaei, be freed.

“We are also concerned about the fate of Iranians who are in danger of imminent execution for exercising their right to free expression after the June 2009 elections,” Clinton said on August 10 in a statement, naming Kazemi and Hajaghaei.

“The United States urges the Iranian government to halt these executions in accordance with its obligations to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and calls for the immediate release of all political prisoners and imprisoned human rights defenders.”

Clinton was referring to the 1966 UN treaty on fundamental freedoms, which Iran ratified before the 1979 Islamic revolution overthrew the pro-Western shah.

The European Union had taken the PMOI off its list of foreign terrorist organisations in 2009.

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