0608 GMT January 27, 2020
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei called on Iran's judicial officials to show “Islamic mercy” to the suspicious individuals involved in recent protests sparked by the government decision to increase petrol price.
The Iranian government raised gasoline prices on November 15 in order to moderate the national consumption rate, which stood at 110 million liters per day, 40 million liters above the maximum daily domestic requirement.
The move prompted protests in a number of cities which were largely peaceful, but which turned violent when riotous elements took advantage of the circumstances to destroy public property and set banks and gas stations ablaze.
A number of people and security forces lost their lives during the violence. There is no official tally on the number of casualties yet.
Ayatollah Khamenei on Wednesday responded to a report submitted by Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani, who has made suggestions for handling the situation of the people killed or injured during the recent violent unrest in Iran, according to Tasnim News Agency.
In response to the report, Ayatollah Khamenei said, “They (the suggestions) should be carried out immediately, and the suspicious people in each group must be treated in a way that is closer to the Islamic mercy.”
Shamkhani had made the report after the Leader ordered him to investigate the reasons behind the outbreak of unrest carefully, and to address the situation of the victims and their families.
Also on Wednesday, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani called for the release of innocent people who were arrested during protests.
Some of the arrested people are innocent and must be freed, Rouhani said in an address broadcast by state television.
"There are some who... have committed an offense, not a crime. Someone has set fire to a tire; we must not keep them for what they've done.
"What they've done was not right but... we must not be strict with these people," he said.
But Rouhani said people who used weapons or committed serious crimes during the violence should be treated separately.
"Those who are criminals must be dealt with according to the law," he said.
They included "those who have come to this incident in an organized manner," he added.
Rouhani said their "confessions" would be broadcast "in the future, and you will see they had been planning for more than two years."
"Their masters abroad told them that now is the time, carry it out... these people must be dealt with."
Iran has blamed the violence that broke out on "thugs" backed by its arch-foes the United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia.
It has also accused exiled royalists and the anti-Iran terrorist group, Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO), of being behind the violence.