Iran’s Regime on a Killing Spree: What’s Behind the Surge in Executions?

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Written by
Mehdi Oghbai

The Iranian regime, and its Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, have gone on a killing spree with a new surge in executions in recent days. What’s driving this sudden spike in systemic state murder?

On May 8, the regime executed at least seven prisoners. The wave of executions began last week with the hanging of several Baluchi prisoners before the weekly anti-regime protest in Sistan and Baluchestan provinces. Reports by the Iranian Resistance indicate that over 50 prisoners have been executed so far, and nearly two dozen others have been transferred to solitary confinement, waiting to be executed.

The country’s economy is in shambles, with reports acknowledging 50% inflation, a plummeting currency, and soaring unemployment. These problems have caused a sharp decline in the purchasing power of the population and increased poverty rates. Decades of oppression have only added fuel to the powder keg that is Iranian society.

Thus, Iran’s society is a ticking time bomb of protests fueled by the regime’s financial calamity and social problems. Despite its ability to momentarily quell dissent, the regime’s days are numbered. The fire of dissent still smolders beneath the ashes, waiting for the next spark to ignite another uprising.

The surge in executions is a desperate attempt to quell the restive society. The regime is rattled with crises and cannot—or will not—solve the problems it has created. Thus, Khamenei is determined to maintain his grip on power and silence dissenters. He has even vowed to treat those he calls “rioters” harshly.

The regime’s claims of being a regional power were thoroughly exposed as a sham during the nationwide uprising. The truth is that every uprising since 2018 has dealt a severe blow to the ruling theocracy. But it was the protests that erupted in the wake of Mahsa Amini’s savage murder that marked a decisive moment.

These demonstrations caused the regime to lose whatever little legitimacy it still had outside the country. The slogans aimed at Khamenei, such as “Death to Khamenei” and “Khamenei, you murder, we will bury you,” left no doubt about this fact.

Although appalling, the recent brutal executions are not a display of strength. In November 2019, Khamenei ordered the killing of unarmed protesters, resulting in over 1500 deaths. But the regime’s brutality has only further pushed Iran’s volatile society toward exploding.

These hangings are Khamenei’s last-ditch effort to delay his regime’s downfall, but it’s too late. Protests have transformed into a democratic revolution, and society’s reaction has disrupted his plan. The clerical dictatorship has destroyed all hopes of peaceful change and reform, forcing Iranians to resort to extreme measures.

Mehdi Nasiri, former editor-in-chief of Keyhan Daily, an outlet known as Khamenei’s mouthpiece, warned on May 5, “The absolute rule of clergy, particularly Mr. Khamenei, has created a tyranny in Iran. A popular rebellion is on the horizon. Khamenei has ruled for 34 years, leading the Islamic Republic to its worst popular base. What government kills hundreds of people in three years during peaceful demonstrations? Authorities have blinded hundreds and slaughtered many more.”

As the regime goes through its final phase, It’s high time for the world to take concrete measures to hold it accountable for its egregious human rights violations. Iranians must be allowed to exercise their fundamental human rights without fear of reprisal. Justice and freedom are contagious, and the world must support the Iranian people in taking down their tyrants.

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