Skip to main content

Iran revokes death penalties handed to three protesters  

The executions were reduced to jail terms in a controversial case that had drawn a furious public backlash.  
An exhibition calling for an end to executions in Iran on Trafalgar Square on October 10, 2020, in London, England.

A court in the Iranian capital handed five-year jail sentences to three anti-government protesters, officially reversing their death penalties issued at a trial in 2020.  

The three, Amir-Hossein Moradi, Saeed Tamjidi and Mohammad Rajabi, were detained during the country's November 2019 unrest that was triggered by an unpopular fuel price hike plan.  

Babak Paknia, the lawyer representing them, announced the verdict on Twitter, adding that the jail sentences were also open to appeal. "The time they have already served will effectively make them qualified for conditional release," he further noted, referring to parole on compassionate grounds.  

Following their arrest, the three defendants were put on trial as "riot leaders acting against the Islamic Republic" and were given capital punishment by notorious hard-line judge Abol-Qasem Salavati, who has been sanctioned by the United States and the European Union over alleged human rights violations.  

As the proceedings concluded in February 2020, wide-reaching campaigns called for a halt to the executions. "No to the death penalty" was among multiple fast-trending hashtags on Persian Twitter, where alarmed Iranians expressed anger and frustration.  

Despite being upheld, the rulings were once again reviewed by Iran's Supreme Court, which suspended them and ordered a retrial. 

Rights organizations have referred to the November 2019 protests as the largest ever unrest in post-revolution Iran, in which the security apparatus came down on the demonstrators with its harshest line. Amnesty International has documented at least 304 deaths, a Reuters investigation has counted 1,500, and the official toll announced by Iran's Interior Ministry stands at above 220.  

Iran is one of the world's leading executioners, sitting next only to China and competing with Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Citing Sharia law and its own constitution, the Islamic Republic has repeatedly shrugged off intranational calls to repeal the practice.  

In the latest on Monday, the Iranian judiciary confirmed death sentences against two activists known for their advocacy of the rights of LGBTQ+ communities. Prosecutors have accused the two of "promoting homosexuality" and "trafficking women and girls" into neighboring Iraq. Same-sex relationships are criminal offenses under the Islamic Republic's penal system. The pair have since Sunday received fast-growing social media solidarity meant to save them from the gallows. 

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Already a Member? Sign in


The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.


What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial
What's included:
Our Expertise AI-driven

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

All premium Industry Newsletters - Monitor the Middle East's most important industries. Prioritize your target industries for weekly review:

  • Capital Markets & Private Equity
  • Venture Capital & Startups
  • Green Energy
  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainable Development
  • Leading Edge Technology
  • Oil & Gas
  • Real Estate & Construction
  • Banking

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to and we'll onboard your team.

Already a Member? Sign in

Security Briefing Security Briefing

Security Briefing

Middle East defense and security in your inbox

Trend Reports

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (4th R) attends a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (3rd L) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on February 22, 2019. (Photo by HOW HWEE YOUNG / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read HOW HWEE YOUNG/AFP via Getty Images)

From roads to routers: The future of China-Middle East connectivity

A general view shows the solar plant in Uyayna, north of Riyadh, on March 29, 2018. - On March 27, Saudi announced a deal with Japan's SoftBank to build the world's biggest solar plant. (Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP) (Photo credit should read FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images)

Regulations on Middle East renewable energy industry starting to take shape

Start your PRO membership today.

Join the Middle East's top business and policy professionals to access exclusive PRO insights today.

Join Al-Monitor PRO Start with 1-week free trial