However, this claim is misleading. While Iranian lawmakers and the Judiciary have spoken in favour of harsh punishments for all protesters who "commit serious crimes against the state", only one person, who tried to set a government building on fire, has been sentenced to death as of 16 November.
Moreover, a Human Rights activist and a senior journalist from Iran also confirmed to The Quint that the claim was misleading.
The claim about more than 15,000 detainees undergoing mass execution has taken the internet by storm. Celebrities, world leaders and several social media users have shared the claim.
An archive can be seen here.
An archive can be seen here.
WHAT WE FOUND OUT
We performed a keyword search and found an article by BBC from 14 November 2022, which stated that one person had been sentenced to death in Iran for setting a government building on fire.
It also stated that 15,800 protesters were detained for protesting.
Another report from CNN published on 14 November mentioned that the Iranian court issued this first death sentence after convicting the person for “enmity against God” and “spreading corruption on Earth.”
HOW DID THE CLAIM ORIGINATE?
The '15,000' number comes from statements by the United Nations and Human Rights Activists in Iran. The latter maintains a document on the number of protestors detained or killed, according to which over 15,000 people are currently detained.
Social media posts that shared the false claim referred to an erroneous article in Newsweek titled, "Iran Protesters Refuse to Back Down as 15,000 Face Execution".
The article has since been updated, and the new headline said, "Iran Protesters Refuse to Back Down as First Execution Sentence Handed Down". It also includes a correction regarding its earlier reporting.
The report also talked about 227 Iranian lawmakers asking for severe punishments for those involved in the protests. This was based on a report published by Iranian state media talking about a letter signed by the lawmakers.
“We, the representatives of this nation, ask all state officials, including the Judiciary, to treat those, who waged war [against the Islamic establishment] and attacked people’s life and property like the Daesh [terrorists], in a way that would serve as a good lesson in the shortest possible time,” the letter said, according to 6 November report in Press TV, an Iranian state-owned news network.
A report from 8 November on news agency Reuters said that Iran's Judiciary was also considering handing down harsh sentences to those arrested for protesting.
However, neither the letter from the lawmakers nor the Judiciary's statements said anything about issuing death sentences for all convicted protestors.
WHAT DO HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP IN IRAN SAY?
The Quint spoke with Skylar Thompson, Head of Advocacy at the Human Rights Activists in Iran, who dismissed the claim and added that only one death sentence had been issued, whereas over 15,000 people have been detained.
The Iranian regime is brutal enough. They have killed over 340 people in nearly 60 days, including an eight-year-old child, and somehow, certain headlines feel the need to make the story even more horrific, as if what is happening already isn’t bad enough.Skylar Thompson, Head of Advocacy at the Human Rights Activists in Iran
"It’s dangerous. While only one execution is confirmed this far, many are indeed likely at risk and now is not the time to spread misinformation," she added.
We also spoke to a senior editor of a daily (pro-regime) based in Tehran, who clarified that the claim about the Islamic Republic sentencing 15,000 protestors to death is false.
Clearly, the claim about 15,000 demonstrators being sentenced to death for participating in protests is misleading. As of 16 November, only one person had been awarded the death penalty.
(With inputs from Deepa Parent.)
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