Dubai, United Arab Emirates — Iranian authorities announced on Monday that they would hold public trials for 1,000 people in the capital, Tehran, following protests that have rocked the country. The massive indictments mark the government’s first major legal action to quash dissent since the unrest erupted more than six weeks ago.
Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency quoted judicial officials as saying that around 1,000 people who had played central roles in the protests would be brought to justice in Tehran alone for their “subversive actions”, including the assault of security guards, burning of public property and other reproaches.
Nationwide protests first erupted after the September 16 death of Mahsa Amini, 22, in the custody of the country’s vice squad. She was detained for allegedly violating Iran’s strict dress code for women. Although the protests initially focused on the compulsory headscarf, or hijab, in Iran, they have since turned into one of the biggest challenges to ruling clerics since the chaotic years following the Islamic Revolution in Iran. 1979.
“Those who intend to confront and overthrow the regime are dependent on foreigners and will be punished according to legal standards,” Iran’s justice chief Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Ejei said, noting some protesters would be charged with collaboration with foreign governments. Tehran officials have repeated unsubstantiated claims that Iran’s foreign enemies have fomented the unrest.
“Without a doubt, our judges will deal with the cases of the recent riots with precision and speed,” he said.
Security forces have broken up rallies with live ammunition and tear gas during weeks of sustained protests. At least 270 people have been killed and 14,000 arrested, according to the group Human Rights Activists in Iran. The protests continued – even as the fearsome paramilitary group the Revolutionary Guards warned young Iranians to stop.
Ejei said prosecutors were trying to differentiate between angry Iranians who simply sought to air their grievances on the streets and those who wanted to overthrow the theocracy.
“Even among the agitators, it should be clarified who had the attention to confront the system and overthrow it,” he said.
Judicial authorities have announced charges against hundreds of people in other Iranian provinces. Some were charged with “corruption on earth” and “war against God”, offenses punishable by death.