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‘Silence is not the answer’: Iranian-Canadians horrified by first-known execution

Click to play video: 'Iranian-Canadians disturbed by execution over anti-government protests'
Iranian-Canadians disturbed by execution over anti-government protests
WATCH: Mohsen Shekari is the first known person to be executed over the months-long protests in Iran. He was one of many to be sentenced to death by the Iranian regime. Iranian Canadians here at home are gravely concerned their family members may be next. Negar Mojtahedi reports – Dec 8, 2022

The Islamic Republic has conducted its first known execution in connection to the anti-regime protests that have rocked the country since the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini.

Mohsen Shekari, 23, was reportedly hanged after being found guilty by a revolutionary court of “waging war against God.”

According to Mizan news agency, which is run by the regime’s judiciary, Shekari was accused of blocking a street and wounding a member of the pro-regime Basij militia on Sept. 25.

Rights groups, such as Oslo-based Iran Human Rights, say Shekari was tortured and forced to confess with a sham trial without any due process.

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Iranian-Canadians are horrified about the news Thursday, worried about their relatives still in Iran.

Amir Bahejekian, an Iranian-Canadian activist, has a cousin in Tehran named Semiramis Babaei. He learned recently the award-winning author, journalist, translator and playwright was arrested at her home.

She is now being held at the notorious Evin Prison.

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“The helplessness that’s the worst part,” Bahejekian told Global News. “I’m here 15,000 kilometres away trying to advocate for a cousin.”

He is worried Babaei and others will meet the same fate as Shekari if there is not enough international pressure on Iran.

According to the Centre for Human Rights in the country, 11 other protestors have been sentenced to death and 28 others, including children, are facing charges that are punishable by death.

“They do it because they can and they can get away with it,” Bahejekian added. “They never paid a price for it. The world should show that there is a price to be paid for this.”

Click to play video: 'Iranian protestors facing death penalty'
Iranian protestors facing death penalty

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Iranian-Canadian human rights advocate Nazanin Afshin-Jam, who founded Stop Child Executions, said the western world needs to take action now and go beyond condemnation.

“It’s (a) calculated move on behalf of the Islamic Republic to send fear onto the population,” she said.

“If the international community doesn’t respond with strong action it’s basically giving licence to (the) regime to continue with their execution spree.”

Activists are concerned that more silence will only mean more families will end up like Shekari’s family.

“It’s horrifying but at the end of the day silence is not the answer because four decades of looking the other way is what brought us to this day,” Bahejekian said.

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