A police motorcycle burns during a protest over the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic republic's 'morality police', in Tehran, September 19, 2022.

Iran’s Government Threatens People Ahead Of Protest Anniversary

Wednesday, 08/09/2023

Leading up to last year’s protest anniversary in September, Iran’s security agencies have resorted to intimidation and threats in order to discourage people from taking to the streets.

Over the past three weeks, the intelligence ministry and the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) intelligence organization (SAS) have been reaching out to individuals who were arrested during the nationwide anti-regime protests. They are warning them not to participate in any demonstrations on the anniversary of the protest movement, according to sources in Iran who spoke to Iran International.

Those summoned by the intelligence bodies have been asked to sign pledges to stay at home for a week, and some have even been required to take time off from work, ensuring their absence from any protests. They have been threatened with arrest if they are found engaged in any pro-protest movement activities in public or on social media.

The regime has also increased pressure on the families of those killed in the protests and on the lawyers representing them, including Saleh Nikbakht, a veteran human rights lawyer who represents the Amini family. Nikbakht is under prosecution for giving interviews about the case to foreign media and has been charged with spreading propaganda against the regime.

Mahsa (Jina) Amini

On July 5, an independent international fact-finding mission on the Islamic Republic of Iran submitted a report to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Secretary-General, urging the Iranian government to “end its continuing crackdown on peaceful protesters” and to halt the wave of executions, mass arrests, and detentions since Amini’s death. The report stated that Iran must also “respect, fulfill, and protect the rights of all people in Iran, especially women and girls.”

Over the past few months, various officials have expressed concerns about the potential for more protests to begin on or around the anniversary of Amini’s death.

In an address to governors from across the country on June 16, Interior Ministry Political Deputy Mohammadreza Gholamreza warned that the anniversary of Amini’s death, coupled with the opening of schools and universities a few days later, posed a potential danger of fresh protests that could impact the public’s interest in the upcoming parliamentary elections on March 1st.

Speaking to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s official website on June 19, Brigadier General Mohammad Kazemi, head of SAS, claimed that intelligence organizations from nearly twenty foreign countries – including the United States, Israel, European powers, as well as Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries – had been involved in instigating protests in Iran. Kazemi asserted that Mahsa Amini’s death had only “fast-tracked the enemy’s planning.” He further claimed that the enemies are pursuing the same strategy and are counting on the upcoming elections as a favorable opportunity to execute their plans.

A scene of anti-regime protests in Tehran on September 21, 2022

Last year’s deadly crackdown by the regime during the protests resulted in the deaths of 500 civilians, with thousands more injured and tens of thousands arrested. The regime has never released any official figures nor taken responsibility for any of the deaths.

Many of the detainees were released on bail and are still awaiting trial. Thousands of others were pardoned by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in February. So far, seven protesters have been executed, and several others are awaiting death sentences that have been imposed on them.

In March, Chief Justice Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei claimed that 22,000 individuals had benefited from the amnesty.

Rights organizations, however, have reported that some of those who had been pardoned and released from prison were later prosecuted on new charges and are awaiting trial now. 

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