Iran has been experiencing unprecedented levels of protests and civil unrest since the death of Mahsa Amini on September 16. The 22-year-old Kurdish woman was arrested by the country's "morality police" for supposedly wearing an "improper" form of hijab during a visit to Tehran. She was allegedly beaten severely while in custody. The beatings are believed to have led to her death from a fatal head injury, but Iranian authorities have denied the accusation.
In the wake of Amini's death, there have been large-scale nationwide protests the likes of which Iran has not seen in decades. Female protesters have notably taken to burning their hijabs and cutting their hair in public in defiance of the rules imposed by Iran's Islamic government, under the leadership of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Iranian lawmakers have called for strict punishments for the protesters who have been arrested. A letter supported by 227 of the 290 members of the Iranian Parliament urged that the protesters be given harsh punishment.
According to Iranian state-run Press TV, the letter stated: "We, the representatives of this nation, ask all state officials, including the Judiciary, to treat those, who waged war [against the Islamic establishment] and attacked people's life and property like the Daesh [terrorists], in a way that would serve as a good lesson in the shortest possible time."
The state-run Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported the letter said, via Google Translate, that 227 members of the parliament called on the judiciary to "deal decisively with the instigators of the recent riots and execute the retribution sentence for the fighters.
"We, the representatives of this nation, ask all the officials of the country, including the judiciary, to teach a lesson to the fighters who, like ISIS, have attacked people's lives and property with hot and cold weapons, as soon as possible, and to bring the divine judgment to justice," IRNA reported.
"To the fighters in every dress and class and to carry out life-giving orders to prove to everyone that the life, wealth, security and honor of our dear people are the red line of this system and it will not compromise with anyone in this matter.
"The nation's lawyers expressed their gratitude to the protectors of security, especially the military and law enforcement forces, as well as the nation of Iran, and asked the judiciary to deal decisively with the perpetrators of these crimes, and with all those who assisted in the crime and provoked the rioters, like some politicians."
After reading this statement, the members of the Islamic Council chanted the slogans "Death to America", "Death to the hypocrite", "Death to seditionists" and "The blood in our veins is a gift to our leader," IRNA repoted.
Newsweek contacted the Iranian government for comment.
On November 13, an unidentified protester received the death penalty in the first instance of that sentence coming in the trials against people who were arrested for demonstrating. Five others were given jail time between five and 10 years, according to state media Mizan.
Iran Human Rights warned that "at least 20 protesters are currently facing charges punishable by death per official reports" and it has expressed its concerns that the Iranian government might move hastily with the executions.
Iranian government spokesman Masoud Setayeshi said, according to Reuters: "Now, the public, even protesters who are not supportive of riots, demand from the judiciary and security institutions to deal with the few people who have caused disturbances in a firm, deterrent, and legal manner."
On Tuesday, Carnegie Endowment fellow Karim Sadjadpour said the number of arrests in relation to protests was nearing 15,000. It is unclear how many of these arrests will lead to punishable charges.
In the last 8 weeks Iran’s regime has killed over 300 protestors, imprisoned nearly 15,000, and threatened to execute hundreds more, yet Iran’s women persist. Today female university students removed their forced hejab and chant, “I am a free woman.” pic.twitter.com/OjQZ6zHfG5— Karim Sadjadpour (@ksadjadpour) November 8, 2022
"In the last 8 weeks Iran's regime has killed over 300 protestors, imprisoned nearly 15,000, and threatened to execute hundreds more, yet Iran's women persist," Sadjadpour wrote in a tweet. "Today female university students removed their forced hejab and chant, 'I am a free woman.'"
Several prominent figures in Iran are calling for a response from foreign governments.
Outrageous! After killing 100s of protesters on the streets & a violent crackdown, 227 MPs in Iran called the protesters “Mohareb” & asked the judiciary to issue “retribution” sentences [execution]. The world should respond. Dangerous!#MahsaAmini #مهسا_امینی #IranRevoIution pic.twitter.com/CBdyE6mStS— Omid Memarian (@Omid_M) November 6, 2022
"Outrageous! After killing 100s of protesters on the streets & a violent crackdown, 227 MPs in Iran called the protesters "Mohareb" & asked the judiciary to issue "retribution" sentences [execution]," journalist Omid Memarian tweeted on Sunday. "The world should respond. Dangerous!"