A large number of people who took part in protests in Tehran have been put behind bars, the city’s Prosecutor General has told local media.
Meanwhile, a “well informed source” told Radio Farda that merchants of the bazaar in city of Arak, central Iran, closed down the market on Thursday, June 28. Radio Farda has not received any information whether protests still continue in other cities.
Referring to the recent protests against fluctuation in Iran’s forex market, Tehran Prosecutor-general, Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said on Wednesday evening, “A large number of people who participated in protests in Tehran’s Grand Bazaar on Monday have been arrested and will likely face trial.”
Without giving the exact number of the detainees and describing them as the “main agitators”, Jafari Dolatabdi warned, “Authorities will not hesitate in countering riots,” adding, “The agitators are not from Tehran’s bazaar”.
Furthermore, Jafari Dolatabadi repeated and old refrain for describing all anti-Islamic Republic protests inside Iran as “foreign-made”, maintained, “U.S. is determined to disrupt Iran’s security.”
Merchant’s protest began on Sunday, but soon turned into larger rallies on Monday and led to the closing down of Tehran’s Grand Bazaar, which was traditionally dominated by the supporters of Iranian conservative forces, including ultraright clergy.
At a meeting with judiciary officials on Wednesday, June 27, the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on Justice Department to “confront those who disrupt economic security."
A day earlier, judiciary head, Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani had threatened the protesting merchants with execution.
“Listen carefully. Take the cotton out of your ears and open your eyes. Disrupting the country’s economic order is punishable by execution—if found to be on the level of ‘corruption on earth’—or up to 20 years in prison and the confiscation of all possessions,” Amoli Larijani warned in a speech addressing judicial officials in Tehran on June 26.
“We will not hesitate to implement the law,” he cautioned.
“Disrupting the economic order” is a key phrase that Khamenei also used to threaten protesting merchants.
Tehran’s Prosecutor-General echoed his superiors’ threats, saying, “I warn all those involved in business that, if found guilty of economic corruption, we will not hesitate to punish them.”
Referring to the “numerous” unidentified detainees, Jafari Dolatabadi said, “I inform these individuals and their families that they will not be released until they are prosecuted.”
Furthermore, Jafari Dolatabadi reiterated that the protesters did not belong to bazaar, insisting, “Those who are trying to disrupt the economic security of the Islamic state are not bazaari types. You will see that the bazaaris will distance themselves from them. The people will not allow a few individuals to give themselves the right to cause disruption in the bazaar and create economic insecurity.”
While Jafari Dolatabadi has accused outsiders of closing down Tehran’s grand market, Ahmad Karimi Esfahani, Secretary General of the Islamic Society of Tehran Guilds and Bazaar has insisted that people's rightful economic demands should be met.
Speaking to state-run Iran Labor News Agency (ILNA), Karimi Esfahani has noted that President Hassan Rouhani's government is "completely ineffective" in the economic sector.
However, several pro-reform members of the Islamic Consultative Assembly (majlis or parliament) believe that the roots of the recent protests across Iran go beyond the country’s deteriorating economic situation.
“I don’t think economic problems are the only factor for the people’s dissatisfaction,” a pro-reform MP, Abdolreza Hashemizaie, told ILNA on June 25.
“In fact, people are grappling with political and social concerns and if the authorities don’t do anything about them, these economically rooted civil protests will turn into disturbances,” he reiterated.
Another reformist MP, Jahanbakhsh Mohebbinia also told ILNA on June 25, “Up to now, the people have given the officials opportunities to solve economic problems. I suggest officials do not blame the people’s movement on foreign instigations.”