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Iran prosecutor threatens action against judicial protests over nixed pay hike

Top legal official says rallies by disgruntled workers are ‘illegal’ as weekend protests held in Tehran and other cities over reneging on earlier promise by now-President Raisi

Screen capture from video of Iran's Prosecutor General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, 2018. (YouTube)
Screen capture from video of Iran's Prosecutor General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, 2018. (YouTube)

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s prosecutor general threatened Monday to launch criminal proceedings against judiciary personnel who have protested against the denial of a planned pay rise.

“The colleagues must put an end to some actions that can open the way to abuse by enemies of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” said Mohammad Jafar Montazeri in a statement by the judiciary’s media arm Mizan Online.

Such “illegal actions… contradict sharia principles and are liable to legal action,” he added.

Ultraconservative President Ebrahim Raisi, who assumed his post in August, had proposed a salary hike in the last weeks of his previous job as judicial chief.

But the new government he leads changed its mind and judicial personnel protested on Saturday and Sunday in many Iranian cities against the decision.

“The question of personnel livelihoods is being considered carefully by the head of the (judicial) authority and the government has likewise promised to pursue it favorably,” the prosecutor added.

Shargh, a newspaper representing the reformist viewpoint, on Sunday published video of a protest by hundreds of men and women in front of parliament in Tehran.

“If our problem is not resolved, we will shut down the justice system!” they chanted.

Another reformist paper, Arman Melli, reported that judicial personnel organized rallies “in most” cities to protest against the reversal of the plan to raise salaries.

The demonstrators held up signs with slogans declaring that “justice workers are unable to support themselves” and decrying the “hypocrisy of the government and parliament.”

A protest video was shared on social media by Ben Sabti, an assistant spokesperson in the Farsi language at the Prime Minister’s Office in Israel.

Sabti posted the video on his personal Twitter account, writing that the Iranian regime “should be afraid of the internal issues and losing legitimacy.”

According to Sabti, judiciary officials called president Raisi a “liar” at the protests.

Hit by severe sanctions imposed by the US, Iran suffers high inflation that has curtailed the value of civil servants’ pay.

Montazeri, the prosecutor general, has in the past taken a hardline against protesters. When truckers went on strike in 2018 over pay and a demand for government subsidies to maintain their vehicles, he threatened them with the death sentence.

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