Jan. 10 (UPI) — Britain’s foreign secretary has summoned Iran’s most senior diplomat to lodge complaints over the Middle Eastern country’s recent execution of protesters demonstrating against the regime.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said in a statement that he summoned Iran’s charge d’affaires Mehdi Hosseini Matin on Monday “to condemn in the strongest possible terms the abhorrent executions we witnessed over the weekend.”
Stephen Hickey, Britain’s director of Middle East and North Africa at the foreign ministry, held the meeting with Matin during which he underscored London’s opposition to the death penalty.
“The Iranian regime must end its campaign of brutal repression and start listening to the concerns of its people,” Cleverly said.
Iran has been rocked by mass anti-regime protests since the middle of September as people took to the streets in anger following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in police custody. She was detained on accusations of violating the country’s strict hijab laws.
Tehran has met the protests with a bloody crackdown, resulting in deaths of at least 481 people, including 64 minors, according to the Oslo-based Iran Human Rights organization.
The authorities have also arrested numerous protesters, at least four of whom have been executed, including Mohammad Mahdi Karami, 22, and Seyyed Mohammad Hosseini, 39, on Saturday.
The executions have been met with wide-ranging international condemnation.
“We deplore the execution of two more protesters, #MohammadMehdiKarami & #MohammadHosseini, following unfair trials based on forced confessions,” the United Nations Human Rights office said. “It’s shocking that Iran continues to execute protesters despite international outcry. We urge Iran to halt all executions.”
At least 109 detained protesters are at risk of execution, death penalty charges or sentences, Iran Human Rights said, explaining the actual number is believed to be much higher.
“These two individuals were put to death following what can only be called sham trials — sham trials that were rushed, that lacked any fair trial guarantees,” he said. “We condemn these executions in the strongest terms.”
He further expressed concern that the Iranian authorities may execute other Iranians through sham trails.
“Rather than listen to the young people, to the women, to the girls of Iran, the regime is trying to silence them, and in some cases the regime is even killing them,” he said.