Iran locks up four suspected of inciting protests

Defendants were accused of disrupting public order and stoking anti-regime demonstrations

A demonstrator takes part in a solidarity rally for Iranians, in London on Sunday. Reuters
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Iran on Sunday sentenced four people to prison for allegedly calling on the public to participate in the months-long protests that have shaken the regime, as well as encouraging strike action.

It is the first time Tehran has sent people to jail for inciting strikes since a nationwide protest movement began in September following the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22 year-old Iranian-Kurdish woman who died in morality police custody, after being detained for apparently breaching the country's strict dress code for women.

The rallies have posed the biggest threat to regime leaders since Iran became a theocracy after the 1979 revolution. A wave of strikes later hit the education sector and the country's vital oil, gas and steel production.

Revolutionary courts in Hormozgan Province handed down sentences of one to 10 years for the four convicted of "disrupting the country's security" and destroying vehicles' windows, the judiciary's Mizan news website said.

None of those jailed were named.

The judiciary accused them of calling on drivers to strike in the southern coastal province.

Analysts say the government's harsh security crackdown helped spread anger at the government, which initially spread in universities and among the Kurdish community to encompass a broad spectrum of Iranians concerned about deteriorating economic conditions.

A 15-year-old girl was killed in October in a raid on her school, Iran's teachers union confirmed, calling on security forces to stop killing "innocent prisoners."

At least 517 protesters have been killed and more than 19,200 people arrested since the protests began, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group is monitoring the unrest closely.

Four people have been executed for participating in the protests, sentenced to death in closed-door hearings regularly dismissed as sham trials.

Authorities accused all of them of killing or wounding members of security forces leading the brutal response to the protests.

Also on Sunday, officials defended Iran's use of the death sentence as "in accordance with the law".

"People who cause fear and disturb the security of society are sentenced to death," a judicial official told Mizan, citing Iran's Islamic penal code.

At least 16 people have been sentenced to death for joining the protests, activists say, while hundreds more are feared to await a similar fate.

Updated: January 08, 2023, 3:08 PM