TEHRAN – The head of the Iranian justice system on Sunday promised no leniency in the face of the wave of unrest that has rocked the country since the death of the young Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in police custody.
Justice chief Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei‘s warning came after nine nights of protests and street battles, echoing earlier statements by ultra-conservative President Ebrahim Raisi.
At least 41 people have died so far, mostly protesters but also members of the Islamic Republic’s security forces, according to an official figure, although human rights groups say the real number is higher.
The head of the judiciary “stressed the need for firm action without leniency” against the main instigators of the “riots”, according to the justice website Mizan Online.
Hundreds of protesters, reform activists and journalists have been arrested amid the nightly protests that have spread across many cities since unrest began following Amini’s September 16 death.
Security forces fired live ammunition and bird strikes, human rights groups filed complaints, while protesters threw rocks, torched police cars, torched public buildings and shouted “death to the dictator”.
The biggest protests in Iran in nearly three years have been led by women and sparked not by conventional political or economic grievances, but by anger over the Islamic Republic’s strictly enforced gender dress code.
Amini, whose Kurdish first name was Jhina, was arrested on September 13 for allegedly breaking rules that mandate the wearing of a tight-fitting hijab and prohibit, among other things, ripped jeans and brightly colored clothing.
Some female Iranian protesters have since lost and burned their hijabs and cut their hair during the rallies, some dancing beside large bonfires to cheers from the crowd who chanted “zan, zendegi, azadi” or “woman, life, freedom”.
- Editor/ additional report by AFP