Iran executes three men over recent protests, draws protests

(Reuters) -Iran on Friday executed three men it said were implicated in the deaths of three members of its security forces during last year’s anti-government demonstrations, drawing protests at home and abroad.

Majid Kazemi, Saleh Mirhashemi and Saeed Yaghoubi were executed in the central city of Isfahan, the judiciary said in a statement on Twitter, adding they had "martyred" two members of the Basij paramilitary force and a police officer on Nov. 16.

Amnesty International said the men's fast-tracked trial was flawed and used "torture-tainted 'confessions'".

Iran denies that confessions are extracted under torture.

Friday's executions brought to at least seven the number of protesters hanged since the beginning of the nationwide protests that began last autumn and turned into one of the boldest challenges to the clerical leadership since the 1979 revolution.

They were ignited by the death on Sept. 16 of 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini while in the custody of Iran's morality police.

In anticipation of their imminent execution, the three men on Wednesday appealed in a handwritten note for public support, saying, "Don't let them kill us".

"We need your help," said the note that went viral on social media, drawing local and international appeals to halt the executions, including from Washington.

Families and supporters held nightly vigils outside the Dastgerd prison in Isfahan in support of the three men who were being held inside. Street protests broke out in Isfahan, the capital Tehran and a few other cities after the executions were announced, according to videos posted on social media.

"We swear by our comrades' blood to be steadfast till the end," chanted protesters in Tehran, in a video which Reuters could not independently verify.

The European Union condemned the executions "in the strongest possible terms", a spokesperson said. Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Penny Wong, condemned the hangings as "reprehensible killings" and said on Twitter: "Australia stands with the people of Iran."

U.N. rights experts said in a statement they were "deeply alarmed" at continuing executions of Iran protesters.

State media broadcast videos of what were presented as the defendants' confessions, which Amnesty International said were extracted by torture.

"The shocking manner in which the trial and sentencing of these protesters was fast-tracked through Iran's judicial system amid the use of torture-tainted 'confessions', serious procedural flaws and a lack of evidence is another example of the Iranian authorities' brazen disregard for the rights to life and fair trial," Amnesty said in a report on Wednesday.

"Majid Kazemi said in an audio recording from prison that he was forced to make false self-incriminating statements after interrogators beat him, gave him electric shocks, subjected him to mock executions, and threatened to rape him, execute his brothers and harass his parents," said Amnesty.

The men were sentenced to death on the charge of "enmity against God" for the alleged possession of a firearm.

U.S. State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel, calling on Iran not to execute the three men, told reporters on Thursday that their execution would be an affront to human rights.

(; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Toby Chopra, Alex Richardson and Daniel Wallis)