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Iran Jails At Least 8,000 Following November Protests

A scene from protests in Kerman, Iran showing security forces entangled with demonstrators, November 16, 2019

Three weeks after the start of anti-government protests in Iran there are still conflicting reports on the number of arrests made by security forces. A member of the Iranian Parliament Hossein Naqavi Hosseini put the number at 7,000 as one of the official accounts.

Iranian Judiciary officials have refused to provide any figures. It appears that they will announce the number after releasing most prisoners on bail, so that the number could be smaller and less embarrassing.

As the usual practice in previous cases of major unrest in Iran has shown, the officials free the inmates with lesser charges on hefty bails and summon them to court later gradually.

An investigation carried out by Radio Farda shows that around 8,000 protesters have been jailed following the protests that started on November 15 after a sudden three-fold hike in the price of gasoline. The protests quickly turned into anti-government demonstrations that were met by gunfire by security forces killing at least 208.

The investigation is based on interviews with civil activists in Iran, reports by international human rights watchdogs andfigures offered by Iranian media. However, it reflects the number of those arrested in only 21 of 31 Iranian provinces. There are still no confirmed independent reports on the number of arrests in the other 10 provinces.

Tehran - 2021

Some of the bloodiest crackdown by security forces took place in small towns around the capital Tehran.

The governor-general of Tehran Province Anoushirvan Mohseni Bandpay has said that 2021 people have been arrested in this province.

The arrests in the province include the detention of at least 50 Tehran University students. MP Mahmoud Sadeqi has said that some of the arrests made from among university students have been preemptive.

Kermanshah - 1370

The IRGC Commander in Kermanshah Province, Bahman Reyhani told reporters that "most protest leaders in the province have been arrested."

The IRGC commander has branded the protesters as "thugs" and people who have undermined the people's security. However, he did not say how many protesters were arrested in the province.

However, local human rights watchdog Henegac has said that 1230 people have been arrested in protests in Kermanshah. Meanwhile, the IRGC intelligence has also said that it has arrested another 140 after the protests.

Khuzestan - 1000

Khouzestan has been one of the most volatile Iranian Provinces. The province's governor-general Gholamreza Shariati said on November 17 that 180 were arrested during the first three days of the protests.

Human rights activist Karim Deyhimi said in an interview with Radio Farda that some 800 people were arrested in the province, but some of them have been already released.

Meanwhile, local officials have reported new arrests in Khuzestan during recent days. Khuzestan's Police Chief Heidar Abbaszadeh said on December 4 that 145 "protest leaders" were also arrested.

He said these individuals were arrested in various cities in the province based on intelligence made available to the police.

In another development, the director general for counter terrorism at the Intelligence Ministry said on Monday that its agents have arrested 79 people who were active in the protests.

Kurdistan - 500

Human rights watchdogs including Henegav have put the number of those arrested in Kurdistan Province at more than 500. Some of the local news agencies in the province have published details about the arrests in more volatile towns, such as Marivan and Javanrud where a dozen demonstrators have been killed by security forces.

Alborz - 400

Mohamad Javad Kolivand, member of parliament for Karaj said on November 30 that 400 protesters were arrested in the Alborz Province in the vicinity of Tehran. Other reports say more arrests were also made in the province after the situation calmed down.

Khorasan Razavi - 400

Mashhad, the capital of this province was the venue of the first protests in Iran following the gas price hike. However local officials have not given away any figures on the number of arrests.

It was Friday prayers leader Ahmad Alamolhoda who broke the news about the arrests, saying on Friday November 22 that 400 people were arrested and jailed in that city.

However, he claimed that 90 percent of those arrested, mainly "inexperienced youths" were freed quickly, "but the enemies' agents" remain in jail, he added. Certainly, many more have been arrested, not just in Mashhad, but also in other population centers in the province.

Shiraz - 300

Local news website Shirazeh revealed on the third day of protests on November 18 that 100 protesters were arrested in Shiraz, citing a security official as its source.

Later reports put the number of those jailed in Shiraz, the capital of Fars Province at 300. There are reports about further arrests in the province but new figures cannot be confirmed independently.

Lorestan - 300

Lorstan Police Chief Haji Mohammad Mehdian has put the number of those jailed in the province following the protests at 300, adding that most of the inmates were arrested in the province's capital Khorramabad.

Isfahan - 250

Political and civil activists in Isfahan Province told Radio Farda that at least 250 protesters have been jailed in the province since November 15.

At least three of those arrested are under 18 years of age, a police chief in the city of Isfahan said.

The local TV station in Isfahan has broadcast forced confessions made by some of those arrested, reports said.

More arrests have also been made in the province according to the Police Chief in Najafabad. The new arrests include 26 in Najafabad and Yazdan Shahr.

Kohkiloyeh and Boyer Ahmad Province - 250

A careful summing up of reports on Telegram channels in this province indicate that at least 250 have been arrested there.

The figure includes 150 initial arrests made on November 18.

Mazandaran, Kerman, West Azarbaijan, Bushehr - 100 Each

Reports from these provinces put the number of those jailed at a minimum of 100 arrests in each province based on data collected from Telegram, official statements and reports by activists.

Provinces with less than 100 in jail

At least 70 arrests have been reported in East Azarbaijan Province, 50 in Ilam Province, 50 in Sistan and Baluchestan Province, 43 in Yazd Province, 35 in Zanjan Province, 31 in Hormozgan Province, and 29 in Southern Khorasan Province.

The number of those jailed in all of these provinces is on the rise as new arrests are being made on a daily basis.

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    Ehsan Mehrabi

    Ehsan Mehrabi is an Iranian journalist and an expert on Iran's domestic politics. Mehrabi was arrested with a group of other journalists on February 7, 2010 in Iran and served a one-year prison sentence. He resides in Germany and is a contributor to Radio Farda.