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article image140 Detainees Released by Iranian Authorities

By Chris Dade     Jul 28, 2009 in World
There are continuing signs from Iran that the authorities in the country are beginning to pay attention to the outcry over the treatment of those detained during the recent street protests.
Following the announcement that the Kahrizak detention facility on the outskirts of the capital Tehran was to close because, as the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee member Kazem Jalali explained, "it lacked necessary conditions to preserve rights of detainees", comes news that 140 of those being held at Evin prison, also in Tehran, are to be released.
The release of the detainees on bail, reportedly they are only suspected of committing "smaller infractions of the law,", was announced a short time after a visit to Evin by officials tasked with investigating current conditions in the country's prisons was concluded.
However as the Independent reports, when Mr Jalali confirmed the release of the detainees to the Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA) he also stated that 200 others would remain in custody pending further investigation of their activities. Of those 200, 150 were said to have been in possession of weapons when they were arrested during the protests, whilst the remainder were what the Iranian judicial authorities considered to be "agents of the unrest and some of them were members of anti-revolutionary groups".
Some of the individuals still in detention include Shahpour Kazemi, the brother-in-law of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, and prominent Mousavi supporters such as Behzad Nabavi and Mostafa Tajzadeh. Mr Tajzadeh served in the government of former President Mohammad Khatami, himself a supporter of Mr Mousavi.
According to CNN Farhad Tajari, deputy chief of the Iranian parliament's judicial and legal commission, stated on ILNA that approximately 30 people in total were killed during the post-election demonstrations and less than a thousand were arrested. Those figures are likely to be greeted with skepticism by opposition supporters who have maintained that official estimates of detentions and deaths are considerably below the true numbers.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has also apparently moderated his stance regarding those who were arrested whilst demonstrating against his reelection. Details have been posted on the President's website of a letter he has written to Ayatollah Hashemi Shahroudi, Iran's Chief of the Judiciary, in which he requested that "maximum Islamic kindness be extended to those who had been unknowingly put in the path [of the recent disturbances]". The BBC says that the letter also spoke of the fact that the Iranian authorities "want their families to be happy by their release". It mentioned too that "They should be home for the occasion of the birth anniversary of Imam Mahdi which falls on 7 August."
There is speculation that the new attitude to many of the protesters still in detention has been prompted by the death of the 25-year-old son of conservative politician Abdolhossein Rouhalamini. Mohsen Rouhalamini reportedly died in hospital, having been transferred there after spending time in the Kahrizak detention facility. He was arrested during a protest in early July.
Whether the death of one young man, with links to the Iranian establishment, has indeed led to the release of many of his compatriots will probably not matter much to the families welcoming their loved ones home. Their worry is over at last.
More about Iran, Ahmadinejad, Mousavi
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