Home News Society Iran Protests: More Than 1,000 Protesters Believed Arrested as Unrest Fills Prisons

Iran Protests: More Than 1,000 Protesters Believed Arrested as Unrest Fills Prisons

Former President Mohammad Khatami, condemned anti-government protesters in a meeting he presided over that was held by the reform-oriented Assembly of Militant Clerics.

In a speech to his forces, police chief Hossein Ashtari claimed that 70 percent of the protests’ organizers have been arrested, although he stopped short of giving a specific number. However, reports by media, such as
IranWire, and statements issued by governors and security officials in several provinces, indicate that more than 1,000 people have been arrested since the protests began on December 28th.

By Tuesday, more than 450 people had been arrested in the province of Tehran, said Ali Asghar Naserbakht, the province’s deputy governor-general.

In Malard County, officials said the “admin of a social-media page that was creating rumors” had been arrested, in just one of many cases in which officials have tracked people and arrested them based on posts to social media.

According to the deputy prosecutor of Mashhad, the holy city where the protests began, 138 people have been arrested, and more than 20 people were arrested in Karaj, a large suburb of Tehran. The epicenter of the protests,
Isfahan province, saw the arrests of more than 100 people. As well, more than 100 people were in Markazi province, which includes the major city of Arak.

The governor of Hamedan said 150 had been arrested, mostly of them aged between 17 to 25. Authorities said that some of them “had connections with networks and media abroad.”

150 people were arrested for chanting slogans against the regime and for “disrupting the public order and security” in the northern province of Golestan, according to its governor-general.

The Lorestan city of Borujerd made international news when“a European citizen” was arrested. In interviews with the media, Judiciary chief, Hamidreza Bolhasani, claimed, “This person was leading and directing the chaos and had been trained for this by espionage organizations in Europe and had come to Borujerd to run the riots.” Ali Sabzevari, the judiciary’s head of public relations said the suspect had been arrested “while carrying a camera and other equipment.” Officials affirmed that the arrested suspect is originally from Borujerd, but has been naturalized as a citizen of a European country.

A workshop inside Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison has been ordered to stop making uniforms. Workers have been instructed to make 1,200 blue blindfolds, according to the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), who speculates the these blindfolds are for new detainees.

An inmate serving a sentence for financial misconduct who is held at the prison’s Ward 7 spoke to IranWire, and described the scene there, saying,“I was awakened early in the morning by the noises of prisoners’ traffic. They were emptying one of the rooms in the middle of Ward 7, mostly occupied by financial offenders.” He said further that leaves of absence for both political and ordinary prisoners have been revoked until further notice. “We are keenly following the news and we are very worried,” he said. “We don’t receive many newspapers and the TV reports the news in dribs and drabs—but one can get an idea about what is happening outside by the unusual situation inside the prison.”

According to the inmate the new detainees who have no record of political or security arrests have been sent to the “isolation ward,” where they have no contact with other prisoners. The ones who have records of being arrested for political activities have been sent to Ward 2A, controlled by the Revolutionary Guards, and Ward 209, run by the intelligence ministry.

Mostafa Mohebbi, director general of Tehran province’s prisons, told Fars News Agency, “Teams have been dispatched to the prison and are separating out those [who] have been arrested in the events of recent days,” and added, “The number of arrests was not so high as to create a problem for us in receiving them.” According to Mohebbi, the number of people arrested over the last four days was less than 200.

Still, the intelligence ministry’s public-relations office announced that a number of “hostile elements and rioters” have been arrested, and that there is a continuing search for others.

Reportedly, in the capital, a number of student-activists have been arrested, as have followers of the minority Sufi religious order the Gonabadi Dervishes. Mehdi Azadbakht, a webmaster for the dervishes’ website Majzooban-e Noor, has apparently also been arrested in Arak by intelligence ministry forces.

Iranian state TV broadcast confessions of some of those arrested, on January 3rd. President Hassan Rouhani, remarking on the protests, chided the broadcaster for not genuinely reflecting all sections of Iranian society.

Iranians abroad have organized an active network of human-rights organizations to monitor the fate of the more than 1,000 incarcerated citizens, and to report the ongoing arrests.