Iran's President Hassan Rohani has called for the release of protesters who were arrested in recent demonstrations against a sharp hike in gas prices if they were unarmed and simply voicing their opinion.
"Religious and Islamic clemency should be shown and those innocent people who protested against petrol price hikes and were not armed...should be released," Rohani said in a televised speech on December 4.
Protests erupted on November 15 after the government announced a fuel price hike of up to 200 % but were quickly stifled by security forces who also imposed a week-long near-total Internet blackout.
Earlier this week rights group Amnesty International said at least 208 people were killed in the crackdown, a number that is "evidence that Iran's security forces went on a horrific killing spree."
Iranian judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili rejected the high death toll estimates on December 3, calling them “utter lies.”
On December 3, Rohani ordered a panel to investigate possible compensation for civilians who suffered personal or property damages during the protests.