By Peter Kenny
GENEVA (AA) – The UN human rights chief on Tuesday condemned the execution of protesters in Iran and called on Tehran to immediately put a moratorium on the death penalty.
"The weaponization of criminal procedures to punish people for exercising their basic rights – such as those participating in or organizing demonstrations - amounts to state-sanctioned killing," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk said, adding that the executions violated international human rights law.
On Saturday, Iran executed two men blamed for the death of a security officer during anti-government protests in November.
Mohammad Al Nsour, the Human Rights Office chief of the Middle East and North Africa, said the office has information that two further executions are imminent - that of Mohammad Boroughani, aged 19, and Mohammad Ghobadiou, aged 22.
Al Nsour said mass protests against the executions have taken place in Iran.
The UN rights chief said that the Iranian government would better serve its people's interests by listening to their grievances and undertaking the legal and policy reforms necessary to ensure respect for diversity of opinion.
Iran should respect "freedom of expression and assembly, and the full respect and protection of the rights of women in all areas of life," Turk added.
Iranian authorities have detained thousands of people since the nationwide protests erupted last September following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by the country’s morality police for allegedly violating the dress code for women.
At least 517 protesters, among them dozens of children, have been killed and over 19,200 people have been arrested, according to the Human Rights Activists in Iran, a non-governmental organization closely monitoring the unrest.
Iranian authorities have not provided an official count of those killed or detained.
"Iran must take sincere steps to embark on the reforms that are required and demanded by their own people for the respect and protection of their human rights," said Turk.