(FILE) Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi speaks during a parliament session in Tehran, Iran, 22 January 2023. EFE/EPA/ABEDIN TAHERKENAREH

Iran grants amnesty to 22,000 people arrested over protests

Tehran, Mar 13 (EFE).- Iran announced Monday that it has granted amnesty to 22,000 people who were detained for taking part in protests that swept the country late last year.

The civil unrest – the most widespread in Iran since the 1979 revolution – came in response to the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini in September after she was arrested for allegedly not wearing the Islamic headscarf properly.

(FILE) A veiled Iranian woman walks past next to a wall painting of peace bird at a street in downtown Tehran, Iran, 27 February 2023. EFE/EPA/ABEDIN TAHERKENAREH

The protests were led by young people shouting “women, life, freedom,” but they were suppressed following a crackdown that left nearly 500 people dead and the subsequent executions of four protesters.

“22,000 people who had been convicted or were on trial for the riots have been pardoned,” Judiciary Chairman Gholamhosein Mohseni Ejei said, according to the judiciary’s Mizan news agency.

“Many of these people were in prison and most of them have been released,” Ejei said.

(FILE) A person holds a placard reading ‘against all fascism. Women, life, freedom’ as people protest outside the Iranian embassy on International Women’s Day in Brussels, Belgium, 08 March 2023. EFE/EPA/STEPHANIE LECOCQ

The amnesty was granted by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in February on the 44th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.

In total, some 82,000 people were released and another 34,000 prisoners had their sentences reduced, according to Ejei.

The amnesty applied to those who were not accused of spying for foreign powers, of having maintained contacts with intelligence services of other countries, of having killed or injured individuals or of having participated in the destruction of public or military property.

While the protests have fizzled out, many women have stopped wearing the obligatory veil as a gesture of civil disobedience against laws they believe enforce inequality and discrimination.

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi said last week that wearing the Islamic veil was a legal obligation and a religious necessity for Iranian women to maintain a “chaste” life and ensure social security. EFE