Iran summons Swiss envoy over ‘interventionist’ call to halt executions

Tehran slams Bern for interfering in ‘internal affairs’ with criticism of killings, tweeting picture of demonstrators outside Iran flying ‘fake’ pre-Islamic Revolution flag

File: Protestors wave Iranian pre-Islamic Revolution flags in front of the United Nations headquarters as they attend a rally amid a special session of the UN Human Rights Council on the situation in Iran, in Geneva on November 24, 2022. (VALENTIN FLAURAUD/AFP)
File: Protestors wave Iranian pre-Islamic Revolution flags in front of the United Nations headquarters as they attend a rally amid a special session of the UN Human Rights Council on the situation in Iran, in Geneva on November 24, 2022. (VALENTIN FLAURAUD/AFP)

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran on Sunday summoned Switzerland’s ambassador over a tweet calling for a stop to executions linked to protests triggered by the death of Mahsa Amini, Tehran’s Foreign Ministry said.

The Swiss embassy took to Twitter on Friday to “strongly condemn” the execution earlier that day of three men convicted of killing security force members during last year’s protests in the central city of Isfahan.

“Switzerland urges Iran to stop these executions and to take steps to reduce the use of the death penalty,” said the tweet from the embassy, which also represents the United States’ interests in Tehran.

Ambassador Nadine Olivieri Lozano was summoned “following Switzerland’s interventionist position in our country’s internal affairs,” the Foreign Ministry said on Sunday.

The Swiss tweet featured an image from a demonstration outside Iran showing protesters raising a poster of Amini — who died in custody on September 16 — and waving Iran’s pre-Islamic Revolution flag.

Tehran on Sunday condemned “the unconventional and unprofessional use of this country’s embassy in Tehran in republishing an image with a fake flag.”

“Such an unconventional action is not compatible with the friendly relations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Swiss Confederation, and should be corrected,” the statement said.

Iran witnessed waves of nationwide protests following the death of Amini, 22, an Iranian Kurd who had been arrested for an alleged breach of the Islamic Republic’s strict dress rules for women.

During the protests, which Tehran generally labeled as foreign-instigated “riots,” thousands of Iranians were arrested and hundreds killed including dozens of security personnel.

Majid Kazemi, Saleh Mirhashemi, and Saeed Yaghoubi were hanged on Friday after being found guilty of “moharebeh” — or waging “war against God” — for shooting dead three members of the security forces on November 16.

The executions drew sharp reactions from Western countries and were censured by human rights groups based outside Iran.

Iran executes more people a year than any other nation except China, according to human rights groups including Amnesty International.

The pace of the executions has been frantic in 2023, with the Norway-based group Iran Human Rights (IHR) now counting at least 270 executions since the start of the year.

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