Iran's government is finally bending to public pressure and has announced that they will be releasing 140 detainees that were imprisoned during the protests following the elections in June. There has been a call for all people being held on only minor offenses to be released within the week, and that all criminal investigations be expedited.
There are still hundreds of prisoners left, but the government is claiming they are being held for more serious offenses, like possession of a firearm or damaging public property. Also among the remaining detainees are those they're claiming to have 'masterminded' the unrest, such as political figures, members of anti-revolutionary groups and foreigners.They will be subject to court action.
This announcement followed a statement made yesterday by Ayatollah Khamenei to close a notorious 'nonstandard' prison in Tehran. The order was given because the jail lacked standards to preserve the 'rights of detainees.'
Former candidate, Mousavi, also spoke out yesterday, continuing his harsh criticism of the government's handling of protesters. He's quoted as saying, 'How can it be that the leaders of our country do not cry out and shed tears about these tragedies? Can they not see it, feel it? These things are blackening our country, blackening all our hearts. If we remain silent, it will destroy us all and take us to hell.'
He and other opposition leaders have asked permission to hold a public mourning ceremony on Thursday, which is the 40 day anniversary of Neda's death. The ritual of recognizing the 40 day anniversary is an important part of Shiite Islam. Similar demonstrations were a crucial factor in leading up to the 1979 revolutions as well. Hopefully this is a sign of more positive developments to come to Iran in the near future. -Celeste
Via The New York Times Photo courtesy of Flickr
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