The United States and others around the world condemned the June 18 execution of Mohammad Salas, a member of the persecuted Iranian Gonabadi Dervish Sufi community. The U.S. called the execution “brutal and unjust.”
Salas, a 51-year-old bus driver and father of two, was hanged at the notorious Rajai Shahr Prison, known for its human rights abuses against the people of Iran.
Salas was forced to confess under torture to killing three police officers during the February 2018 clash between the Gonabadi Sufis and Iran’s security forces, according to reports. He was denied access to his lawyer, Zeynab Taheri, before and during his trial.
We are shocked and saddened to announce that Mohammad Salas was executed this morning. We'll have more later but for now we are reposting our press release from yesterday, which details our concerns regarding his grossly unfair trial https://t.co/3JtimWOHiH #SaveSalas #محمد_ثلاث pic.twitter.com/dX5aqnU18G
— Amnesty Iran (@AmnestyIran) June 18, 2018
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the “Iranian people deserve respect for human rights and freedoms,” calling on U.S. partners “to join us in condemning his brutal & unjust execution” in a June 18 tweet.
European Union Spokesperson Maja Kocijancic said, “The trial of Mr Salas raises serious questions about the respect for fundamental rights and due process.” Kocijancic called the legal proceedings for Salas “rushed” and said it appeared “key evidence which could have proven his innocence was also rejected.”
German Human Rights Commissioner Bärbel Kofler said, “There are doubts that the dervish received a fair trial in accordance with rule of law principles.”
At least 300 Sufis were unjustly arrested in February and remain behind bars following a clash with Iranian security forces. Many conservative Shia clerics in Iran denounce Sufism as dangerous to Islam.
Following the execution of Salas, Iranian authorities reportedly arrested and jailed his lawyer.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a June 19 tweet that the “U.S. is deeply concerned by reports that Zeynab Taheri, the lawyer who represented the recently executed Mohammad Salas, has been arrested in
#Iran for disturbing public opinion. We call for her immediate release & end of the Iran regime’s persecution of the Gonabadi Dervishes.”