DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (HPD) — Iranian authorities announced Monday they would hold public trials of 1,000 people in the capital, Tehran, over protests that have rocked the country. The mass prosecutions are the first major legal move by the government to quell dissent since the demonstrations began six weeks ago.
In Tehran alone, a thousand people who played a central role in the marches will be tried for their “subversive actions”, such as assaulting security guards, setting fire to public property and other charges, according to judicial officials quoted by the state agency. iranian news IRNA.
Protests across the country began over the September 16 death of 22-year-old Masha Amini while in detention by the Iranian morality police. She was arrested for allegedly flouting Iran’s strict dress code for women. While the protests initially focused on the hijab, a headscarf that is mandatory in Iran, they have since become one of the biggest challenges to the country’s ruling clerics since the chaotic years following the Islamic Revolution of 1979.
“Those who tried to confront and subvert the regime depend on foreigners and will be punished according to the legal framework,” said the head of the Iranian judiciary, Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Ejei. Some protesters will be accused of collaborating with foreign governments. Iranian authorities have repeated unsubstantiated accusations that foreign enemies of Iran have fomented the demonstrations.
“Without a doubt, our judges will deal with the cases from the recent riots with precision and speed,” he said.
Security forces have followed the marches with live ammunition and tear gas during weeks of ongoing protests. At least 270 people have been killed and 14,000 detained, according to the group Human Rights Activists in Iran. Demonstrations have continued, although the feared Revolutionary Guards, a paramilitary body, have warned young Iranians to stop.
Ejei said prosecutors were trying to differentiate between angry Iranians who were just trying to express their discontent in the streets and those who wanted to bring down the theocracy.
“Even among the agitators, it must be made clear who intended to confront the system and overthrow it,” he said.
Judicial authorities have announced charges against hundreds of people in other Iranian provinces. Some have been accused of “corruption” and “war against God”, crimes that carry the death penalty.