They Marched to Protest Mahsa's Death. Now, Public Trials

Thousands who demonstrated against death of teen will appear before Iran's hard-line judiciary
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 1, 2022 7:42 AM CDT
Iran to Hold Public Trials for Thousands of Protesters
In this photo taken by an individual not employed by the AP, Iranians protest the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in Tehran on Oct. 1.   (AP Photo/Middle East Images, File)

Thousands of Iranians who protested the September death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died in police custody after being arrested for not wearing a hijab, are about to see themselves put on public trial. The Guardian reports that 1,000 individuals in the capital of Tehran who've been indicted for taking part in the demonstrations will appear before Iran's hardline judiciary this week, while at least 1,000 other detainees will receive public trials elsewhere throughout the country. Per state news agency IRNA, the 1,000 or so in custody in Tehran who played a "central role" in the protests will be tried for such "subversive actions" as setting fire to public property and assaulting security personnel, among others, reports the AP.

In some provinces, those in custody are being accused of "corruption on Earth" and "war against God," both capital offenses. Iran's chief justice, Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Ejei, even signaled that some detainees would be hit with charges on conspiring with foreign governments, adding that prosecutors wanted to focus on people determined to get rid of the Iranian regime, not those who were simply in the streets airing their complaints. "It should be clarified as to who had the intention of confronting the system and overthrowing it," he said. In the nearly seven weeks since Amini's Sept. 16 death, Iran has been trying to crack down on the student- and women-led protests, in what Reuters calls "one of the boldest challenges to Iran's clerical leaders since the 1979 Islamic Revolution."

Close to 300 people have died in the protests to date, including dozens of minors, per estimates from one human-rights group. Riot police and local militia members have so far been the ones to handle the demonstrations, not the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, though the elite security force has issued warnings to demonstrators to cease taking to the streets. Iran has blocked Instagram and WhatsApp in an attempt to cut off communications and video from the protests, claiming the platforms don't adhere to the "laws of the Islamic Republic." But one political science instructor at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga says he doesn't see the unrest dying down so easily, with ongoing protests serving as a "sign that people are more determined to challenge the regime compared to the past." (Read more Iran stories.)

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