Iran issues arrest warrants for 1,000 protesters

Senior jurist says courts will use 'accuracy and speed' in trying suspects

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Iranian authorities have issued arrest warrants for 1,000 protesters involved in demonstrations that erupted across the country after the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian-Kurdish woman who died in police custody six weeks ago.

The trials will be held publicly this week, state-run IRNA news reported, quoting Tehran's prosecutor general Ali Alqasi Mehr.

The named individuals were engaged in “subversive actions” during recent events and are facing “serious accusations”, including assaulting or “martyring” security officials and setting fire to public property.

They will be tried in a Revolutionary Court, IRNA reported.

The trial of five men charged with offences that can carry capital punishment over the protests opened on Saturday in Tehran.

One of the men, Mohammad Ghobadlou, was sentenced to death at the first trial session, according to a video from his mother posted by the Washington-based Abdorrahman Boroumand Centre. However this has not been confirmed by the judiciary.

Amini died after being arrested by the morality police because of the way she was dressed, prompting protesters to take to the streets calling for the regime's end.

Many demonstrators have been killed since then. The Iran-based Human Rights Activists group estimates the death toll to be more than 270.

On Saturday, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said the “patience” of its forces had run out.

Monday's announcement marks the government's first confirmation demonstrators will face legal action since the movement began on September 16.

This image grab from a UGC video posted on October 29, 2022, reportedly shows security forces firing at buildings of the Kurdistan University Faculty of Medical Sciences in Sanandaj, the main city of Iran's Kurdistan province. Photo by various sources via AFP

Tehran has repeatedly said that its security forces were not responsible for Amini's death. Some of the country's highest-ranking officials said foreign interference was behind the anti-government movement.

“Those who intend to confront and subvert the regime are dependent on foreigners and will be punished according to legal standards,” said Gholam Mohseni Ejei, the country's Chief Justice.

“Without a doubt, our judges will deal with the cases of the recent riots with accuracy and speed,” he said.

In other parts of the country, authorities have charged protesters with sowing “corruption on Earth” — a broad charge that carries the possibility of a death penalty.

Iran has one of the highest rates of executions of prisoners in the world, according to the UN, with many put to death for drug offences or on politically motivated charges.

The UN said the death penalty, where not abolished, must only be reserved for “the most serious crimes.”

In recent years, Iran has been accused by rights groups of executing protesters in secret and, in 2019, the UN Human Rights Office said Iran was extracting confessions through torture, as well as killing those imprisoned.

It called on Iranian authorities to be transparent about the fate of detainees.

Protests continue

Residents of the Tehran district of Ekbatan late Monday shouted protest movement slogans including "Death to the dictator" with security forces using stun grenades in a bid to stop the action, according to footage posted on the 1500tasvir monitoring site and other outlets.

The Norway-based Hengaw rights organisation said the funeral in the mainly Kurdish city of Sanandaj in northwestern Iran on Monday for Sarina Saedi, a 16-year-old girl it said was killed in the crackdown, turned into a protest with anti-regime slogans shouted and women removing headscarves.

1500tasvir also posted a widely shared video on social media showing medical students protesting in the northern city of Tabriz telling the authorities "You are the pervert!" in a message to the morality police.

Norway-based Iran Human Rights (IHR) group said that students were on Tuesday staging a sit-in protest at Isfahan University while social media footage indicated a similar action was in progress at the engineering faculty of Amir Kabir university in Tehran.

Updated: November 01, 2022, 1:56 PM