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Iran: UN experts condemn execution of protestor, raise alarm about detained artists

08 December 2022

GENEVA (8 December 2022) – UN experts today condemned today’s execution of a 23-year-old demonstrator convicted in the context of nation-wide protests and raised the alarm about Iranian artists charged for crimes carrying the death penalty.

The young Iranian was hanged on Thursday morning after Tehran Islamic Revolution Court found him guilty of “waging war against God”. So far, official authorities already confirmed the death sentences against 12 individuals charged with “waging war against God” (moharebeh) and/or “corruption on earth” (efsad-e fel-arz).

Executions following unfair trials constitute an arbitrary deprivation of life,” they said, urging Iran to establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty.The experts recalled that under international law, thedeath penalty can only be imposed and enforced for offences that meet the threshold of the most serious crimes, meaning in cases which involve intentional killing, and following a legal process that gives all possible safeguards to ensure a fair trial.

“We fear for the life of Iranian artists who have been indicted on charges carrying the death penalty,” the experts said. They made specific reference to Kurdish rapper Saman Yasin, who has reportedly been sentenced to death after being convicted by the Tehran Islamic Revolution Court on 29 October of “moharebeh” or “waging war against God.” Another rapper Toomaj Salehi was indicted for “spreading corruption on earth” another charge that carries the death penalty – in court proceedings held behind closed doors and without the presence of his lawyer.

Yasin was arrested on 2 October 2022 in relation to his songs in which he reportedly criticised the Government, and Toomaj Salehi on 30 October 2022, for posting videos of himself actively asking his followers to participate in demonstrations, and for songs criticizing Iranian authorities.

“We are also alarmed by information that the artists are currently being held in solitary confinement and about allegations of torture and ill-treatment against Mr. Toomaj Salehi,”, the experts said. According to the latest information reaching the UN experts, Toomaj Salehi has a broken nose, several broken fingers and a severely damaged leg.

“These arrests and indictments appear solely to be related to the peaceful exercise of their legitimate right to freedom of artistic expression and creativity. They are only aimed at silencing dissenting voices in the country and constitute undue restrictions on the right of all persons in Iran to enjoy and have access to the arts and to take part in cultural and public life” the experts said. The experts also reiterated their call for the immediate release of thousands of individuals indicted for their involvement in peaceful demonstrations.

Since the start of the protest, at least 40 Iranian artists, writers, poets, actors, film makers and musicians have been arrested and jailed.

The experts said the vitality of artistic creativity is necessary for the development of vibrant cultures and the functioning of democratic societies. Iran’s current crackdown on protests constitutes a violation of international human rights treaties to which it is a party.

The UN experts have expressed their concerns to the Iranian Government regarding these cases and urged them to halt these violations.


*The experts: Morris Tidball-Binz, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions;Alexandra Xanthaki (Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights); Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Javaid Rehman, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran ; Alice Jill Edwards (Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment).Clément Nyaletossi VouleSpecial Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; Miriam Estrada-Castillo (Chair-Rapporteur), Mumba Malila (Vice-chairperson), Ganna Yudkivska, Priya Gopalan, and Matthew Gillett, Working Group on arbitrary detention;Tlaleng Mofokeng, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.

The Special Rapporteurs, Independent Experts and Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

For inquiries and media requests, please contact: 

Ms. Johanne Bouchard (Johanne.bouchard(

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact

Renato Rosario De Souza ([email protected]) or

Dharisha Indraguptha ([email protected])

Follow news related to the UN’s independent human rights experts on Twitter: @UN_SPExperts.

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