Forty-three people have been charged for protesting against the government in Kermanshah, the capital of Kermanshah Province in western Iran, in early January 2018.
The province’s Chief Prosecutor Mohammad Hossein Sadeghi told reporters on March 28 that many of the protesters had acted “emotionally” and under the influence of social media when they expressed frustration with the country’s economic problems.
Those who were arrested “broke the norms,” added Sagehi, indirectly referencing those who shouted slogans against the government and destroyed public property.
“The lack of sufficient progress should not become an excuse for some to undermine security by rioting and creating chaos,” he said.
At least 30 people were killed and more than 4000 arrested during the week-long, nationwide protests that began in the northeastern Iranian city of Mashhad on December 28, 2018.
On January 9, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei blamed the demonstrations on foreign enemies while urging the authorities to assess whether detained protesters were enemies of the state or ignorant people in need of guidance.
“We should talk and enlighten students and others who entered the fray for emotional reasons,” said the ayatollah during a speech in the city of Qom. “But those who acted as pawns for hypocrites and killed people should be dealt with differently.”
The announcement of the charges in Kermanshah comes on the heels of the news on March 1 that cases had been opened against 41 Tehran University students for allegedly participating in protests in the capital city in early January.
“What we can do in terms of helping these students with their problem is to have talks with our dear colleagues in the judiciary so that they may treat them with the highest degree of Islamic mercy and that’s what’s being done right now,” said the university’s Deputy Chancellor for Cultural Affairs Majid Sarsangi.
In January 2018, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) published an in-depth report on the attempts by Iranian state forces to repress the protests by blocking access to social media throughout the country.
“During the unrest that swept through Iran on the eve of 2018, the authorities implemented major disruptions to internet access through slowdowns and the blocking of circumvention tools, blocked the Instagram social media platform and the Telegram messaging app heavily used by the protesters to mobilize the street protests, and briefly cut off Iranians’ access to the global internet on December 30, 2017, demonstrating a new level of technical sophistication,” said CHRI in its report.