Iranian human rights lawyers criticize spiritual leaders amid unrest


DUBAI, Nov 3 (Reuters) – Forty prominent Iranian human rights lawyers have publicly criticized the country’s clerical rulers, saying they will fall because protesters across the country are no longer afraid of violent crackdowns.

“The government is still drowning in illusions and believes it can repress them, arrest them and kill them to silence them,” the lawyers, some inside and some outside the country, said in a statement sent to Reuters .

“But the flood of people will eventually remove a government because the divine will side with the people. The voice of the people is the voice of God.”

Those inside the country risk arrest for their comments. But her statement is the latest example that a growing number of Iranians are no longer paralyzed by the fear of the state that has kept them in check for decades.

Protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody on September 16 after her arrest for inappropriate clothing have rocked Iran’s clergy-based establishment – both the supreme leader and the president are clerics – with people from all walks of life expressing their support call for sweeping political change.

The nationwide demonstrations chanting for the death of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei represent one of the boldest challenges since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

In recent years, major protests that have been violently repressed have focused on election results and economic issues, while the current unrest has one main demand – the overthrow of the Islamic Republic.

Iran has escalated its crackdown, deploying security forces to protests and arresting scores of Iranians, from lawyers to doctors to rappers.

Saeid Dehghan, who represented many Iranian dual nationals detained in Iran on security-related charges, was among the lawyers who challenged the government in Thursday’s statement.

Another is Giti Pourfazel, who was one of 14 activists to sign an open letter in 2019 calling for peaceful regime change in Iran and urging Khamenei to resign.

Following the release of this letter, Pourfazel and other signers were arrested on August 19, 2019. She was released in 2021.

Rights group Hengaw reported Thursday that a 27-year-old rapper from Kermanshah has been charged as an “enemy of God,” a capital statute under Iran’s Islamic law. According to the human rights group, Saman Yasin sang protest songs in Kurdish and was tortured during his first three weeks in detention.

Iran has denied allegations by human rights groups that it abuses prisoners.

writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Alison Williams

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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