Iran arrests 10 political activists calling for Khamenei's resignation

They were arrested while protesting outside of the Mashhad court in lieu of Jafari Yazdi's court appearance - a gathering meant to support the Iranian dissident.

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August 13, 2019 04:08
4 minute read.
Iran arrests 10 political activists calling for Khamenei's resignation

Iranians walk past a large picture of Iran's late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (L), and Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei at a park in Tehran, Iran, January 17, 2016.. (photo credit: RAHEB HOMAVANDI/TIMA VIA REUTERS)

At least 10 political activists were arrested in the Iranian city of Mashhad this week, during a protest supporting an activist who took part in an open letter calling for the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to resign from his position earlier in June.

Kamal Jafari Yazdi, the activist, reported the arrests to Radio Farda, claiming that he saw more than 10 activists arrested at the Mashhad court when he arrived for his own court hearing on Sunday.

Yazdi, who is currently still entangled in a legal battle with the Islamic republic, faces a 13-year sentence for his participation in the open letter.

"Based on recent amendments to the constitution, there is no room for doubt that the president and members of the parliament are merely butlers of the supreme leader," the activists' letter read. "People, deprived of the right to elect figures who have brought glory to their country, may only vote in individuals who play right into the hands of the Vali Faqih (the Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist, Ayatollah Khamenei).

"During these highly harmful and damaging years, lovers of Iran have repeatedly attempted in friendly, civil ways to prevent the leaders of the Islamic republic, specifically Ayatollah Khamenei, from following their destructive deviation," it continued. "Sadly, the regime has imprisoned patriots by shameful means, and either killed [them] or forced them to endure a lot of suffering behind bars."

Yazdi was arrested in August 2018; his sentence was announced in April of this year.

The other activists were arrested while protesting outside of the Mashhad court in support of Yazdi.

"Previously, Reza Mehregan, another member of the first group of 14 activists who had called for Khamenei's resignation, told reporters that he was attacked by three men," Radio Farda reported. "Mohammad Hossein Sepehri, another signatory to the letter to Khamenei, also said that somebody broke into his home and attacked him with a knife, but police refused to come to his rescue. Social media reports also said that Javad La'l Mohammadi, a teacher who was arrested on Sunday, had earlier received death threats over the phone."

Iranian officials have not responded to these reports.

The state-run Fars News Agency reported that the activists came from cities across Iran to take part in the protests, accusing the dissidents of "disrupting security" and of "being in contact with groups supporting regime change."

Iranian state television confirmed the arrests and accusations, claiming that "members of a network" who support a regime change in Iran have been taken into custody.

These types of calls for Khamenei's resignation are not uncommon in the Islamic republic.

In a related development, 14 Iranian women's rights activists penned an open letter just last week to Khamenei requesting that he resign from his position after his 20-year tenure. They wrote that the country needs to undergo political change.

According to a report by Radio Farda, the letter, dated August 5, refers to "gender apartheid" and a "patriarchal approach" that for 40 years has stifled the Iranian political climate. They said that since the Iranian Revolution of 1979, the situation in Iran has created an unfair disadvantage for women who want to live and thrive in the country.

"We, 14 civil rights and women's rights activists, are determined to continue our combat until victory through civil and non-violent measures," they wrote. "Like other pioneers [non-violent freedom fighters], we go ahead by chanting 'no to the Islamic republic.'

"Four decades of this theocracy has eliminated the rights of half of the country," they continued.

The activists are requesting that others join them in peaceful and non-violent protests to construct a new constitution to eradicate "this anti-women system."

All of the signatories reside in Iran, opening them up to potential political persecution or arrest. In fact, two of the signatories have already been arrested by Iranian authorities, who have not yet responded directly to the letter.

"In a world [where] women in most countries move side by side with men in science, economy, culture, arts and politics, under the Islamic republic women still fight for their basic human rights," the women wrote.

The letter also claimed that "systemic tyranny and irresponsibility" are the main reasons why the country is in the state it is today, with domestic protests and international politics chaotically spinning out of control before the country's very own eyes.

They said there is an inability for Iranian women to attend sporting events with their male peers, a ban that Saudi Arabia itself lifted recently, and explained that the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) advocated against this practice in order to allow women to enter the stadiums, reportedly issuing a deadline to the Iranian government until which it had to change its rules.

"Giti Pourfazel, an attorney who is one of the signatories in Iran, told Radio Farda in an interview on Tuesday that 14 women have signed the letter and “twenty million other Iranian women could count themselves as the fifteenth signatory," according to the report.


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