Iran executes a second pro-Mahsa Amini protester, 'quarrels' with China
After he was convicted in sham trials, MajidReza Rahnavard was hanged as an “enemy of God” in Mashhad and hurriedly buried to hide any signs of torture. The Iranian Foreign Ministry "invited" the Chinese ambassador to express its “dissatisfaction” over a joint statement issued during Xi Jinping's visit to the Gulf States. Three Iranian-held islands claimed by the UAE are at the centre of the controversy.
Tehran (AsiaNews) – Iran executed a second pro-democracy protester on charges of being an “enemy of God" (Moharebeh in Farsi), once again using religion against protesters.
The trail of blood has been getting longer since 16 September when Mahsa Amini died in the custody of the morality police. According to Iran Human Rights, the death toll now stands at 488 with more than 18,000 arrests.
Meanwhile, a group of disputed islands in the Strait of Hormuz have become the source of tensions between Iran and China, which Iranian leaders have tried to downplay.
MajidReza Rahnavard is the second person to be executed in the past four days. He was hanged in the city of Mashhad after he was convicted in sham trials.
Like Mohsen Shekari, the first person to be executed, MajidReza was only 23 years old. Like Mohsen, he was convicted of Moharebeh; during clashes on 23 November, he allegedly stabbed to death two members of the paramilitary Basij Resistance Force.
According to activist groups, citing local sources, the authorities called the young man's family to inform them of the hanging. Prison officials hastily buried him in order to hide signs of violence and torture on the body inflicted during interrogations to extract confession, experts note.
Rahnavard's execution took place only 23 days after his arrest, proof of the lack of due process and further sign to protesters and the international community that the regime is prepared to intensify its repression.
Meanwhile, unexpectedly Iran and China have become entangled in a dispute, one that Iranian leaders are trying to keep low profile.
In an unusual move, Iran's Foreign Ministry summoned the Chinese ambassador on Saturday, following a joint Sino-Arab statement at the end of President Xi Jinping's visit to Saudi Arabia that mentioned three islands in the Strait of Hormuz – Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa – held by Iran but claimed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
In its reaction, in order to avoid upsetting China, a key ally in surviving Western sanctions, Iran said that the ambassador “had a visit” with an Iranian foreign ministry official rather than say that it had “summoned” the Chinese envoy.
At the meeting with the ambassador, Iran expressed "strong dissatisfaction" in the wake of a China-Gulf States summit in Saudi Arabia.
Tehran, which closely monitored Xi’s visit, is a major competitor of Saudi Arabia when it comes to supplying crude oil to China.
The controversy stems from a joint statement by China and Arab countries over the three islands, claimed by the UAE, but occupied by Iran after the British ended their protectorate over the Trucial Sheikhdoms in 1971.
For 50 years Iran has rejected the UAE’s claim to the islands, whose inhabitants are Persian-speaking Arabs who use the Bandari dialect of Persian, which is infused with Arabic words and syntax.
China and the Gulf Cooperation Council call for “bilateral talks" to settle the dispute in accordance with international law.
For Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, this is crossing of a red line, because the islands are “inseparable parts of Iran’s pure soil”.
Although Iran’s surprise and dissatisfaction were expressed only in Farsi, not with an English translation, Xi Jinping's visit to the region thus appears to have sent its first shockwaves.