DUBAI, Nov 3 (Reuters) – Forty prominent Iranian human rights lawyers have publicly criticised 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, arrest and kill to silence,” the lawyers, some inside the country and some outside, said in a statement sent to Reuters.
“But the flood of people will ultimately 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 with their comments. But their statement is the latest example of how an increasing number of Iranians are no longer paralysed by the fear of the state that kept them in line for decades.
Protests ignited by the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini on Sept. 16 after her arrest for inappropriate attire have shaken Iran‘s clerical establishment – both the supreme leader and president are clerics – with people from all walks of life demanding wholesale political change.
The nationwide demonstrations, which use chants calling for the death of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, are posing one of the boldest challenges since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
In past years major protests, which were crushed violently, focused on election results and economic woes while the current unrest has one main demand – the fall of the Islamic Republic.
Iran has been widening its crackdown, deploying security forces at protests and making arrests of a wide range of Iranian from lawyers to doctors to rappers.
Saeid Dehghan, who representred many Iranian dual nationals jailed in Iran for security-related charges was among the lawyers who challenged the government in the statement on Thursday.
Another is Giti Pourfazel, who was one of 14 women activists to sign an open letter in 2019 calling for peaceful regime change in Iran and urging Khamenei to resign.
Following publication of that letter, Pourfazel and other signatories were arrested on Aug. 19, 2019. She was released in 2021.
Rights group Hengaw reported on Thursday that a 27-year-old rapper from Kermanshah, was charged as being an “enemy of God”, a capital law under Iran‘s Islamic law. According to the rights group, Saman Yasin had sung protest songs in Kurdish and has been tortured during his first three weeks detention.
Iran has denied allegations by human rights groups that it abuses prisoners.
(Writing by Michael Georgy;Editing by Alison Williams)