Iranians in Winnipeg say they don’t believe a claim from the head of Iran’s judiciary that thousands of people arrested in anti-government protests have been pardoned.

Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei, Iran’s chief justice, said Monday that more than 22,000 people have been pardoned after being arrested in the protests that swept Iran over the September death of Mahsa Amini, according to an Associated Press report.

The 22-year-old woman died in custody after she was detained by the country’s morality police, accused of not wearing her headscarf properly.

There was no immediate independent confirmation of the mass pardon, and some Winnipeggers with ties to Iran are skeptical.

Saeideh Mirzaei, a University of Manitoba PhD student from Iran, said she reacted with “bitter laughter” after hearing the announcement. The government has announced pardons before, but prisoners are often later re-arrested, she said.

“They’re not long-lasting pardons or kindness.… Some of them are out just for a couple of days and they [are arrested] again.”

Iran’s state-run news agency quoted Ejei as announcing the releases Monday, after earlier suggestions Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei could pardon thousands ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which starts later next week.

The chief justice said a total of 82,656 prisoners and people facing charges had been pardoned, including 22,628 who were arrested amid the demonstrations. The pardoned demonstrators had not committed theft or violent crimes, he said, which may suggest the total number of people detained is even greater.

In February, Iran acknowledged “tens of thousands” had been detained in the protests.

“Of course these are not real pardons,” said Winnipeg’s Mirzaei. “The real pardon is releasing all the prisoners.”

‘There is no amnesty’

Iranian Community of Manitoba president Arian Arianpour called the announcement “outrageous.” He said he also knows a number of people who have been pardoned by the government in the past and then re-arrested.

“When you’ve been pardoned, you can’t be summoned for the exact same charges. But so many people have,” he said.

Arianpour said he believes Iran is trying to give the impression of a more peaceful government through the pardons, in an attempt to quell the country’s ongoing protests.

“The regime wants to show off with this so-called amnesty, but there is no amnesty,” he said.

Though demonstrations in Iran over Amini’s death have slowed in recent months, Arianpour said civil disobedience in the country is at an all-time high.

“In cities all over the country, you will see people wearing no hijab,” he said.

Mirzaei also said even though demonstrations have declined, people in the country are still angry, and many are protesting in ways that don’t necessarily involve being on the streets.

“People need to refresh and take back their energy to fight,” said Mirzaei.

“I just put myself in the place of people who are in Iran,” she said. With the risk of being killed or imprisoned for protesting, “how many days you are going to go out?”

Mirzaei said she wants to go back to Iran after she finishes her studies. The thought of return is always on her mind.

“If I really expect people to continue fighting, I have to be a part of that fight, too,” she said.

“If I don’t dare [to go] back, I shouldn’t expect people to be in the street…. I hope I can go back and serve my community.”

Source » cbc