Iranwire – Tehran’s police commander has warned that officers will be out in force this week to arrest residents who are disturbing public order, as activists called for three days of protests coinciding with the Persian festival of fire.
Abbas Ali Mohammadian, commander of the Greater Tehran Police Force, said that officers in uniform and plainclothes will be deployed across the capital starting at 3:00 p.m. on March 14.
He told a press conference that police officers will use the “capacity of mosques” to arrest people.
Security forces have used mosques as places of temporary detention and torture during more than five months of anti-government protests.
Mohammadian also said that that the cars of the arrested individuals will be impounded until the end of the Nowrouz festivities, the Persian New Year.
Ahead of Nowrouz, Iranians celebrate Chaharshanbe Suri, the festival of fire, by setting off fireworks and lighting bonfires, defying a ban on the festivities imposed by the Islamic Republic.
This year, the festival starts on the afternoon of March 14.
In the province of Isfahan, the public and revolutionary prosecutor of Ardestan city also threatened citizens against disrupting public order, saying it could result in prison sentences of up to one year and 74 lashes.
The official, Abbas Barudko, further threatened women with decisive action if they do not wear the mandatory hijab during Nowrouz.
The widespread protests triggered by the September death of a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini, in the custody of morality police are seen as one of the most serious challenges to the Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution.
The authorities have cracked down hard on the women-led protest movement, killing more than 520 people and unlawfully detained over 20,000, activists say. Following biased trials, the judiciary has handed down stiff sentences, including the death penalty, to protesters.
On March 13, judiciary head Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei said that some 22,000 people arrested for participating in riots sparked by Amini’s death have been pardoned.
Ejei told the Supreme Council of the Judiciary that those pardoned included “a small number who were in prison,” while others had been convicted or were awaiting sentencing. He did not give any further details.
Shargh newspaper reported that the “amnesties” recently announced for some detainees was in reality a “suspension of punishment.”