Iranian protester faces execution for murder blamed on gov’t

An Iranian man who was arrested last year during anti-government protests is set to be executed by the Islamic Republic, according to reports on social media, despite his supposed victim’s family insisting he did not commit the crime. 

Mojahed (Abbas) Kurkur was arrested one year ago, on December 20, 2022, according to Amnesty International. He is charged with “enmity against God,” “corruption of the Earth,” and “rebellion against the state,” and accused of involvement in the murder of Kian Pirfalak, a young boy who was shot dead in November 2022. 

Pirfalek was killed at Izeh market in Khuzestan province in a shooting attack that the Iranian government blamed on ISIS, but many Iranians and Amnesty International believe was committed by the state.

The incident took place amid the widespread protests over the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian woman who died in the hospital after being arrested by the country’s morality police for not covering her hair. 

Iranian state media initially reported that ISIS had claimed responsibility for the attack– but when the BBC reported that some supporters of ISIS denied the group’s claim, Iranian media removed the report without explanation, according to an article in Radio Liberty, a US-funded media organization that operates in autocracies such as Iran. 

Iranians attend a protest condemning the Shiraz attack and unrest in Tehran, Iran October 28, 2022. (credit: WANA VIA REUTERS)

Amnesty: plainclothes police killed the victim, not Kurkur

In a video that went viral of the young Pirfalak’s funeral, the boy’s mother was seen criticizing the Iranian leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in a speech many interpreted as blaming the Ayatollah for the death of her son, Iran International reported. In another video, the crowd at the funeral was seen chanting “Death to Khamenei.” 

Following the video’s circulation, however, another clip emerged on state media in which the bereaved mother affirmed the government’s account of the incident, in what was widely understood in Iran as a “coerced confession” likely made under duress. Another video purported to show Pirfalak’s father, but The Jerusalem Post could not confirm this.

Reza Rasasei is also slated for execution

Another video circulating online purports to show Pirfalak’s father blaming the government security forces for killing his son, and an image purporting to show an official document in which Pirfalak’s mother declines to blame Kurkur also circulated, although the Jerusalem Post was unable to authenticate either.

Also sentenced to death is Reza Rasaei, of Kurdish descent, another young Iranian active in the protest movement whose trial has been questioned by human rights organizations. He is charged with the murder of Nader Beyrami, head of the Intelligence Organization of the Revolutionary Guards in the city of Sahneh, Kermanshah, in a trial that Amnesty International called “grossly unfair.”

The human rights group alleges that Iranian police “subjected Reza Rasaei to torture and other ill-treatment, including electric shocks, suffocation by putting a plastic bag over his head and severe beatings to compel his forced ‘confession.’”

Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.

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