In September in Tehran, protesters clashed with police during a protest over the death of Mahsa Amini. File Photo by STR/EPA-EFE
March 13 (UPI) -- Iran claims to have pardoned more than 22,000 people who were arrested during nationwide protests last fall.
Chief Justice of Iran Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejehi said in a statement Monday that 22,628 people who were arrested during demonstrations protesting the treatment of women have been pardoned, Independent reports. He said none of those protesters were arrested for theft or violent crimes.
Mohseni Ejehi added that 82,656 prisoners were pardoned overall.
The protests erupted after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, an Iranian-Kurdish woman who was died while in police custody in Tehran on Sept. 16. Women led the charge, many removing their hijabs as a symbol of rejecting Iran's oppressive government.
Monday's figures from Iran are the closest to an official acknowledgment of how broad the arrests of protesters were.
Iran was condemned across the globe for responding violently to the demonstrations. The United States, Britain and the European Union sanctioned Iran in response to its handling of the protests, freezing assets, restricting travel, and banning some exports from Iran.
Human Rights Activists in Iran estimates that 530 protesters were killed, according to Sky News. The organization accused Iran of using similar tactics as it did during the civil uprising in 2019 that resulted in more than 300 deaths.
"From day one there was no transparent accounting of who was arrested and imprisoned -- before or after the mass protests these past months -- which is why there's no way to verify how many are being released now," Jasmin Ramsey, the deputy director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran, said according to the Independent.
Sky News suggests Iran waited to share details about the arrests because of the instability of its theocracy. The release of arrest numbers indicates the government now feels more secure about acknowledging the scale of civil unrest, the news agency said.