Iran’s supreme leader has pardoned “tens of thousands” of prisoners, including many linked to anti-government protests.
Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has granted pardons to individuals detained in connection to the ongoing protests in the country, according to state media reports. The pardons come ahead of the 44th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution of 1979.
The demonstrations began last September after the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who was arrested for allegedly wearing her hijab improperly, violating Iran’s strict dress code for women. The protests, which are still ongoing, have been characterized as foreign-backed “riots” by authorities, who have responded with force, resulting in the deaths of over 500 people, including 70 minors, according to human rights groups.
Iran’s state media claims that the pardons were granted after a letter from the head of the judiciary framed many of those detained as young individuals who were misled by foreign influence and propaganda. The letter states that some protesters have expressed regret and asked for forgiveness.
However, those charged with serious offenses, such as spying for foreign agents, murder, or destruction of state property, will not be pardoned. The measure also does not extend to dual nationals being held in detention.
Under Article 110 of the Iranian Constitution, the Supreme Leader has the authority to issue pardons at the recommendation of the judiciary.
The Deputy Judiciary Chief, Sadeq Rahimi, has announced that inmates eligible for pardon must pledge in writing to regret their actions in order to be freed. This is a new requirement, according to Rahimi, who spoke to the judiciary-affiliated news agency, Mizan.
The pardons will also extend to defendants who have not received a final verdict for the first time ever, according to the same report. Iran Human Rights, an Oslo-based organization, estimates that at least 100 individuals in detention are facing the death penalty, with all defendants being deprived of their right to access a lawyer, due process, and fair trials.
So far, four individuals have been executed for crimes related to the protests. In January, two men were hanged for killing a security force member, despite launching an appeal alleging that they had been subjected to torture.