Iran’s supreme leader pardons ‘tens of thousands’ of prisoners, state media says
Iran’s supreme leader reportedly ordered an amnesty or reduced prison terms on Sunday for ‘tens of thousands’ of people detained amid nationwide anti-government protests rocking the country, acknowledging for the first time the scale of repression.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s decree, part of an annual pardon granted to the supreme leader ahead of the anniversary of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, comes as authorities have yet to specify the number of people detained during demonstrations. State media also offered a list of caveats to the order, meaning those with overseas ties or facing internationally criticized espionage charges would not be eligible. .
State media reports on the decree offered no explanation for the decision by Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters in Iran. However, prisons and detention centers were already facing overcrowding in the country after years of protests over economic and other issues.
Authorities also did not name any of those who had been pardoned or had seen shorter sentences. Instead, state television, for example, called the protests a “foreign-backed riot”, rather than local anger over the September death of Masha Amini, an Iranian-Kurdish woman in police custody. country’s morality police. Anger has also spread over the Iranian rial’s collapse against the US dollar, as well as Tehran’s arming of Russia with bomb-carrying drones in its war against Ukraine.
More than 19,600 people have been arrested during the protests, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group that tracks the crackdown. At least 527 people were killed as authorities violently suppressed protests, the group said. Iran has not offered a death toll for months. He has already executed at least four people detained amid protests after internationally criticized trials.
All this comes as the Iran nuclear deal has collapsed and Tehran has enough highly enriched uranium to potentially build “several” atomic bombs if it so chooses, the top UN nuclear envoy has said. . A shadow war between Iran and Israel has grown out of the chaos, with Tehran accusing Israel of also attacking a drone attack on a military workshop in Isfahan last week.
Meanwhile, a long-detained Iranian opposition leader is calling for a nationwide referendum on whether to draft a new constitution for the Islamic Republic.
Mir Hossein Mousavi’s appeal, published on Saturday evening by the opposition website Kaleme, included him saying he did not believe Iran’s current system of giving the last word to a supreme leader worked any longer. . He also called for the formation of a constitutional assembly of “true representatives” to draft a new constitution.
It remains unlikely that the Iranian theocracy will respond to the appeal of the 80-year-old politician. He and his wife have been under house arrest for years after his disputed defeat in the 2009 presidential election led to widespread Green Movement protests which security forces also suppressed. However, he himself had supported and served the Iranian theocracy for decades.
In 2019, Mousavi compared Khamenei to former Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, whose regime saw troops gunning down protesters in an event that led to the Islamic Revolution.