Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei, Iran’s chief justice, said a total of 82,656 people have been pardoned, including 22,628 detained in the massive protests seen in recent months following the death of Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in police custody. In addition, Ejei said the sentences of 34,000 people had been commuted.
The announcement is also the first time the Iranian government has released official numbers about how many were arrested during the protests last year. International NGOs had reportedly widely differing claims
about the number of people killed or detained during the demonstrations, which the government has called “riots.” Official numbers say at least 200 have died, although the US-based Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) has claimed there were at least 530 deaths.
The demonstrations saw peaceful protests, including women defiantly removing their hijabs, but also violent attacks on buildings, police and Guidance Patrol officers.
The mass pardons also come as Iran is facing down increased pressure
from the US and Israel over its nuclear program, which they allege is a secret nuclear weapons program, despite Tehran’s fervent denials and no evidence of such a weaponization effort.
Talks to restore a 2015 deal and remove US sanctions have been stuck for more than a year
on a handful of disagreements, with Tehran saying it is up to the US to return to compliance since it was the part that left the deal in the first place, and Washington demanding additional concessions from the Iranians that weren’t part of the original deal.
It also comes after a historic peace deal
last week with Saudi Arabia, Iran’s major regional rival, to restore diplomatic relations that had been severed since 2016. The deal was brokered by China, a growing partner with both nations.