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Thursday, December 15, 2022


by Lisa St. John

Iran executed a second prisoner on Monday convicted over crimes committed during the nationwide protests challenging the country’s theocracy, publicly hanging him from a construction crane as a gruesome warning to others.  The execution of Majidreza Rahnavard came less than a month after he allegedly fatally stabbed two members of a paramilitary force after purportedly becoming angry about security forces killing protesters. The development underscores the speed at which Iran now carries out death sentences handed down for those detained in the demonstrations that the government hopes to put down. Activists warn that at least a dozen people already have been sentenced to death in closed-door hearings. At least 488 people have been killed since the demonstrations began in mid-September, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group that’s been monitoring the protests. Another 18,200 people have been detained by authorities. Iran’s Mizan news agency, which falls under the country’s judiciary, published a collage of images of Rahnavard hanging from the crane, his hands and feet bound, a black bag over his head. AP, December 13, 2022

His hands and feet bound,

a black bag over his head.


Majidreza Rahnavard, we won’t remember

your name. But your death will add

to the gruesome pictures of memory.


He had been convicted on the charge of 

“moharebeh,” of waging war against god.


Evidently, god can’t take care of himself,

fight his own battles, or defend his

own honor. 


Typically, those condemned are alive

as the crane lifts them off their feet


What lesson would be learned otherwise? 

Those left “on the wall” of The Handmaid’s Tale

also had their heads bagged. 

Just fiction.


“But the third rope was still moving: the child, too light, 

was still breathing...” Night by Elie Wiesel 

Just history.


Just a girl who wouldn’t wear a scarf,

no pubic hanging, killed in custody



At least 488 people have been killed since

the demonstrations began… another 18,200

people have been detained.


Just news.

Lisa St. John is a writer living in upstate New York. Her chapbook Ponderings is available on her website. Her first full-length book of poetry Swallowing Stones is forthcoming from Kelsay Day Books. Lisa has published her poetry in journals such as The Poet’s Billow, LightEntropy MagazineThe Poetry Distillery, Poets Reading the News, and Chronogram Magazine. Lisa’s nonfiction work has been published in Grief Digest and Sleet Magazine.