[JURIST] Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari-Dolatabadi said Saturday that approximately 100 people imprisoned for their participation in the massive 2009 presidential election protests [JURIST news archive] have been pardoned and released by Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei [official profile; BBC profile]. Though the pardoning of “repentant” prisoners traditionally coincides with the conclusion of Ramadan, analysts have viewed their release as a political, conciliatory gesture [LAT report] in preparation for next year’s elections. Because the names of the prisoners have not been released, it is unclear whether two Americans captured while hiking across the border of Iraq [CNN report] are among those who have been freed.
The Iranian government has faced significant international scrutiny for its handling of the post-election protests and treatment of thousands arrested as a result. Aside from the repeated pleas form the US, Amnesty International labeled human rights violations committed by the Iranian government following the election among the worst of the past 20 years [JURIST report]. Human rights groups have also called on the UN General Assembly [official website] to appoint a special envoy [JURIST report] to investigate allegations of rights violations. Alleged human rights abuses of detainees include sexual assault, beatings and forced confessions [JURIST reports]. Many of those detained after the protests have been freed, but more than 80 have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms and five have been sentenced to death.