On 12 December 2020 an execution took place in Iran that was like no other, even for a country that has the second highest known number of state-sponsored executions in the world. Everything about it – who the victim was and how and why he was apprehended, tried and hanged – holds critical insights for foreign policymakers in the US, as well as the European nations who wish to resume relations with the governing Islamic Republic of Iran.
The victim, 42-year-old Ruhollah Zam, was the son of a high-ranking Shiite cleric so devoted to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini that he named his son after him. Zam was a child of the 1979 revolution that Khomeini led against Iran’s monarchy, and the ensuing Islamic Republic was the only government he knew for most of his life. But that changed in 2009 in the aftermath of a contested presidential election. Like millions of other Iranians, Zam took part in the nationwide protests that have become known as the “Green Movement”, was arrested and spent some time in jail. On his release, along with thousands of other embittered and disillusioned activists, he left the country.
NewStatesman, December 18, 2020