The Leader of Europe's 'Last Dictatorship' Is Facing an Unprecedented Challenge. Here's What It Could Mean for Belarus

Europe’s longest serving leader Alexander Lukashenko has long worked hard to seem invincible. He has dominated past elections that the U.S. has deemed neither free nor fair and brokered no dissent and suppressed protests. Now, he is facing an unprecedented challenge as he runs for a sixth term as president of Belarus in elections on August 9. A former teacher and political novice, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, has emerged as his main rival, pledging to topple Lukashenko’s regime and restore democracy.
Tens of thousands have rallied across Belarus in some of the country’s biggest opposition protests in a decade, amid mounting frustration over the government’s mishandling of the COVID-19 crisis, combined with grievances about the economy. Referring to Lukashenko, protestors chanted ‘stop the cockroach’ and held placards reading ‘change!’.
“For the first time in his 26-year rule, Lukashenko knows the majority don’t support him,” says Aleksandr Feduta, a former aide to the incumbent, who was i…

Iran: 13 Executions in 14 days; Reza Askari Executed on “Espionage” Charges

Rouhani's Iran
Iran Human Rights (IHR); July 14, 2020: A spokesperson for the Judiciary disclosed that Reza Askari, a prisoner on death-row for "espionage" has been executed. 

13 people have been executed the past 14 days, including three on so-called "security" charges.

Mizan, the judiciary’s online news agency, quoted Gholamhossein Esmaili, a spokesperson for the judiciary as saying that a prisoner was executed in an Iranian prison on charges of "espionage" last week. 

There is no information on the exact date or location of the execution.

While being questioned about the case of Mahmoud Mousavi-Majd, a political prisoner on death-row, Gholamhossein Esmaili, elaborated: “Last week, we carried out a similar sentence against a retired Ministry of Defence aerospace employee. He retired in 2016 and later connected to the CIA, and sold the information he had on our missile production to the CIA and received money from it. He was arrested and tried and sentenced to death and was executed last week. He was Reza Askari. They should know, that’s intelligence dominance. Askari was monitored and documents were collected and finally, his sentence was carried out.”

Iran Human Rights (IHR) has documented the execution of 13 prisoners over the last 14 days, including two political prisoners and one prisoner on charges of "espionage."

Due to the lack of transparency in the Islamic Republic of Iran’s judiciary system, particularly in so-called security related cases, no information is available on Reza Askari’s interrogation, trial and whether he had access to a lawyer. 

Defendants accused of security charges are tried and convicted without legal representation by Islamic Revolutionary Tribunals, which predominantly take place behind closed doors. 

They would have spent long periods of time under interrogation and pressure in solitary confinement before trial.

Source: Iran Human Rights, Staff, July 14, 2020

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