iran khamenei clemensy amnesty
Recently, the so-called “amnesty” of thousands of inmates, including political prisoners by the Iranian regime’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, made headlines. While authorities and Tehran’s pundits celebrate this decision as a “humanitarian action” and a “sign of strength,” facts on the ground reveal the opposite: Khamenei’s desperation.
Despite the regime’s heavy quash, the nationwide uprising has persisted for the past five months. Besides brutalizing protesters, Khamenei has been nurturing his paranoia of downfall through propaganda and censorship.
The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) was the first to announce that at least 30,000 protesters have been detained. This has not been the first time that the MEK’s account for the regime’s crimes. The MEK was the first to announce that authorities killed 1500 protesters during the November 2019 uprising. This number was later confirmed by Reuters and referenced by many international organizations.
Besides, videos from Iran showed the security forces viciously cracking down on protests, killing and imprisoning unarmed protesters. Even though Tehran denied it completely, now the state media acknowledge this fact.
On February 8, while claiming that Khamenei offers clemency to “between 30 to 40 thousand prisoners,” the state-run Royedad 24 wrote: “This year, around 100,000 prisoners were pardoned, which is much more than the last year.” The state-affiliated outlet then reminds the claims of Hassan Nowrozi, the vice-chairman of the judicial and legal commission of the parliament, who underlined in 2021 that there are nearly “240,000 prisoners, and this number should be 20,000. Prisons are over-capacitated.”
“Therefore, at least 200,000 prisoners were in Iran’s prisons until last year. Thirty thousand prisoners and detainees of the recent protests make up 15% of the total prison population of the country, which is a significant figure,” Roydad 24 added.
Unlike what many outlets, regime officials, and Tehran’s pundits try to imply, Khamenei’s recent “general amnesty” was an absolute failure and a sign of weakness for several reasons:
Acknowledging the arrest of thousands of protesters and mistreating them debunks the regime’s claims of not using violence against citizens and heralds more international condemnations.
Hundreds of family members of the arrested protesters have been gathering outside the prisons calling on the regime and state officials to release their loved ones.
Wary of more social tumult, many top and former officials have been pushing the regime’s Judiciary to do something and ease the tensions.
Above all, Khamenei’s pathetic gesture implies how the self-proclaimed “regional superpower” is fragile vis-à-vis the Iranian people’s tenacity and their organized Resistance movement. Brave Iranian protesters who rattled the regime’s foundations during the uprising made the regime desperate through their Resistance in prisons.
While releasing some prisoners clearly put on display the regime’s weakness, it does not mean Tehran has reduced its human rights violation. Domestic oppression is the regime’s pillar of existence, and mass arrests and killing of over 750 protesters are testaments to this fact.
As the regime is certainly indicating a state of decline, the world community should maintain and increase pressure on the clerical regime and use this momentum to send a fact-finding mission to the Iranian prisons.