As unrest persists, Iran's judiciary chief calls for dialogue with protesters

As unrest persists, Iran's judiciary chief calls for dialogue with protesters

Protests over death of Mahsa Amini in police custody have rocked Iran in recent weeks

By Syed Zafar Mehdi

TEHRAN, Iran (AA) – After almost four weeks of protests over the death of an Iranian woman in police custody, Iran's judiciary chief on Monday expressed his willingness for dialogue with protesters.

Speaking at a meeting of senior judiciary officials in Tehran, Mohsen Ejei said he is willing to engage in dialogue and negotiations with all groups to put an end to countrywide protests that have rocked Iran since mid-September.

"If political factions, groups, or individuals have any questions, criticism, ambiguity, or protest, I declare my readiness to talk to them," the top judiciary chief said.

He added that if there is any "criticism or protest", they will accept that and "make the corrections".

His remarks came as protests continue in many cities across Iran, almost four months after Mahsa Amini, 22, died in mysterious circumstances after being detained for wearing "inappropriate dress" by the country's morality police.

The angry protests, which first broke out in Amini's hometown of Sanandaj in western Iran, later spread to all major Iranian cities, including Tehran, resulting in many casualties.

Government is yet to announce the exact figure, but independent rights groups have put the casualty toll at more than 100.

The incident sent shockwaves across the world, with many Western governments issuing strongly-worded statements of condemnation, which didn't go well with the Iranian government.

Ejei, echoing other top Iranian officials, said Amini's death was an "excuse" by Iran's adversaries to foment unrest in the country, citing a recently released forensic report that claimed her death was due to multiple organ failure, not physical violence.

Amini's family, however, has rejected the report. Her father was quoted as saying that there were traces of blood on his daughter's neck and ears when he saw her body.

While security forces have cracked down on what they call "foreign-backed riots", sporadic protests continued on Monday in several parts of the country.

Iran's Deputy Interior Minister Sayyed Majid Mirahmadi on Sunday warned that those arrested in protests hereafter will not be released until their trial, adding that they will be given "severe sentences".

His remarks came after Tehran-based leading universities announced that the majority of their students detained in protests in recent weeks had been released.

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