An Iranian court on Tuesday upheld the death sentences of Saeed Tamjidi (27) and Mohammad Rajabi (25), two Iranian nationals who sought asylum in Turkey last year but were extradited to Iran by the Turkish government despite the knowledge that they could face the death penalty.
Tamjidi and Rajabi were arrested during unrest in November triggered by the government’s decision to raise fuel prices. The two left Iran for fear of persecution after the arrest of a third Iranian, Hossein Moradi (25), and claimed asylum in Turkey.
According to Turkish law professor and opposition MP İbrahim Kaboğlu, Turkish authorities handed these young people over to the Iranian security forces in contravention of its international obligation of non-refoulment to a country where one faces the death penalty and/or torture.
Under international human rights law the principle of non-refoulement prohibits states from transferring or removing individuals from their jurisdiction or effective control when there are substantial grounds for believing that the person would be at risk of irreparable harm upon return, including persecution, torture, ill-treatment or other serious human rights violations. Under international human rights law, the prohibition of refoulement is explicitly included in the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED).
Tamjidi, Rajabi and Moradi were accused of committing armed robbery and arson during the protests, but their lawyers believe their confessions were made under “aberrant conditions” while in custody. “We have not been permitted to enter this case, but we hope to reverse the sentence through our request for a judicial review, lawyer Mostafa Nili tweeted last week, before the sentences were upheld.
The upholding of the death sentence for the three men has sparked an outcry from human rights groups as well as a swell of activism against capital punishment on social media. In a rare moment of solidarity, Iranians from many social and political backgrounds have taken to social media with the #DontExecute hashtag to demand that their government halt the executions of the three men.
Soon after the hashtag began trending, widespread Internet disruptions were reported in Iran, believed to be in response to the campaign.
UN human rights experts today also strongly condemned the decision to uphold the death sentences against the three men for participating in protests in November 2019. The press release, however, did not mention Turkey’s extradition of two of the protestors in contravention of its international obligations.