In the wake of reports that the Iranian authorities have set extortionate bails for children arrested during protests in Khuzestan, Sadegh Moradi, head of the province’s Justice Department, reiterated on Wednesday, August 4 that many of the detainees had been released “unconditionally”.
It came even as human rights activists in Khuzestan reported that more civilian protesters had been arrested and taken away in the latest night-time demonstrations. Elsewhere, it was also reported that a number of people arrested at concurrent rallies in Tehran and Karaj been transferred to the quarantine ward of Greater Tehran Penitentiary, also known as Fashafuyeh.
Three weeks after protests over the water crisis first got under way, it is still unclear how many people have been detained. The Ahwaz Human Rights Organization has managed to identify 310 people taken into custody in Khuzestan so far.
In his statement on Wednesday, the head of Khuzestan Justice Department said: “A number of participants were released unconditionally after they being given warnings.” He added that those released had “played no part in destroying public property and disrupting public security.” No information was provided about the rest of the detainees.
A number of eyewitnesses at protests in the Kian Bazaar and Alavi neighborhood in Ahvaz, the capital of Khuzestan, have told IranWire they saw no sign of sabotage by civilians. In fact, they said, fires in the area were started by the security forces.
Meanwhile the judiciary has opened cases against nine civil rights activists who took part in a rally in front of the Interior Ministry in Tehran in support of Khuzestan in July 20. About 30 people attended the protest overall.
At least six of the participants, including human rights campaigner Narges Mohammadi, labor activist Jafar Azimzadeh, lawyer Arash Kaykhosravi, activist Hamid Assefi, civil rights campaigner Pouran Nazemi and ex-political prisoner Ruhollah Mardani were beaten up and detained on the spot. The other three detained were the teacher Rasoul Badaghi, activist Behzad Homayouni and activist Arash Sadeghi.
In the past few days several of the nine have received text messages informing them that cases against them have been filed with Branch Two of Shahid Moghaddas Courthouse, which is based at Evin Prison in Tehran.
Saeid Dehghan, a human rights lawyer, tweeted: “Branch 2 of Evin’s Court has framed nine citizens arrested at the rally supporting the people of Khuzestan.” He emphasized that the rally had been peaceful, and the authorities’ response nothing of the kind.