Iran's judiciary announced on Monday that they will hold public trials for as many as a thousand people detained during recent protests in Tehran, who were arrested over the past several weeks of protests, in the first major legal action to be taken against the protesters.
The IRNA news agency reported that the thousand detained protesters had played a "central role" in the unrest. Each is due to be tried alone for "subversive actions," including assaulting security guards, setting fire to public property and for other charges.
The death last month of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of Tehran’s morality police has triggered a wave of nationwide demonstrations against Iran’s clerical establishment.
Security services have unleashed a fierce crackdown on the mainly peaceful protests, in which at least 253 people have been killed, including 34 children, according to one human rights organization. Several thousand people have been arrested.
"Those who intend to confront and subvert the regime are dependent on foreigners and will be punished according to legal standards," said Iran's judiciary chief, Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Ejei, indicating that some protesters would be charged with collaborating with foreign governments.
Ejei claimed that prosecutors sought to differentiate between angry Iranians – who merely sought to vent their grievances on the streets – and those who wanted to take down the Islamic Republic.
"Even among the agitators, it should be clarified as to who had the intention of confronting the system and overthrowing it," he said.
Iran has witnessed waves of anti-government protests in recent years. Hundreds of people were reportedly killed in the government’s suppression of protests triggered by gas price hikes in November 2019 – the deadliest since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.