Iran escalates crackdown on protesters as 750 face trial

Hundreds will appear in court this week, the authorities say

A police motorcycle burns during a protest over the death of Mahsa Amini, a young woman who died in police custody after being arrested in Tehran. Reuters
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Iran’s response to weeks of demonstrations intensified on Sunday with the announcement that 750 more people would be charged with taking part in “recent riots,” state media reported.

About 2,000 people have so far been detained and charged in the unrest, which was sparked by the September 16 death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who died in hospital after being beaten by so-called “morality police.”

She had been detained for allegedly breaking the country's strict rules on wearing headscarves.

Protests were met with a harsh security response, including the use of live ammunition. At least 200 people have been killed, including dozens of children, according to various estimates issued by human rights groups.

According to the highest estimated toll, announced by Norway-based Iran Human Rights, 326 people had been killed as of Sunday, including 43 children.

Demonstrations, which later became violent, spread across Iran and engulfed marginalised minority communities including Iranian Kurds and the Baloch people of the impoverished south, groups who have long harboured anti-regime sentiment.

In Tehran and a number of other cities, secular students demanding an end to clerical rule dominated demonstrations alongside women calling for more rights.

Judicial chief for the southern province of Hormozgan, Mojtaba Ghahremani, said 164 people had been charged "after the recent riots", the judiciary's Mizan Online news website reported Sunday.

They face accusations including "incitement to killing", "harming security forces", "propaganda against the regime" and "damaging public property", the website said, adding that their trials would begin "from Thursday in the presence of their lawyers".

Another 276 people were charged in the central province of Markazi, its judiciary chief Abdol-Mehdi Mousavi was quoted as saying by state news agency Irna.

However, 100 young people were released after signing pledges not to participate in any future "riots", Irna said.

In central Isfahan province, judicial chief Asadollah Jafari said 316 cases had been filed in connection with the recent strife.

Twelve have already gone to trial, the Tasnim news agency reported him as saying late Saturday.

The authorities have denied claims by rights groups abroad that about 15,000 people have been detained in the ensuing unrest.

Updated: November 13, 2022, 6:15 PM
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