clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Iran executes karate champion amid nationwide protests

Mohammad Mehdi Karami was hanged in Iran after being convicted of killing a Basij paramilitary force member.

Protest Against Islamic Regime In Iran In Bonn Photo by Ying Tang/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Two men, including a karate athlete, have been executed for their alleged role in anti-regime protests in November.

Mohammad Mehdi Karami and Seyed Mohammad Hosseini were hanged early Saturday morning, according to the state-affiliated Fars News. The pair were were convicted of killing a Basij paramilitary force member during nationwide protests that started after the death of 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman Mahsa Amini last September.

According to CNN, Karami—an Iranian-Kurdish karate champion—was not given final rights to speak to his family before execution. Karami was convicted on Dec. 5 in a sham trial that human rights group Amnesty International said “bore no resemblance to a meaningful judicial proceeding. His lawyer, Mohammad Hossein Aghasi, also revealed that Karami had begun a dry food hunger strike in protest against his sentence.

In December, Karami’s parents posted a video to social media begging Iran’s regime to spare his life.

“My son is among the karate champions of Iran and has several national titles and was the fourth ranked member on Iran’s national team,” his father said at the time. “I beg of you to please lift the execution order.”

Karami and Hosseini’s killing raised the number of executions in relation to the protests to four. However, more than 40 protesters have received death sentences in recent months.

“We deplore the execution of two more protesters, #MohammadMehdiKarami & #MohammadHosseini, following unfair trials based on forced confessions,” the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) tweeted Saturday.

The European Union also released a statement Saturday condemning Iran’s use of executions to repress civil demonstrations.

“The European Union calls once again on the Iranian authorities to immediately end the strongly condemnable practice of imposing and carrying out death sentences against protesters,” the statement read. “The EU also calls on the authorities to annul without delay the recent death penalty sentences that were already pronounced in the context of the ongoing protests and to provide due process to all detainees.”

About the author: Karim Zidan is an investigative reporter for Bloody Elbow focusing on the intersection of sports and politics. His work is also a contributor to The New York Times and The Guardian. (full bio)