Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – A group of 39 Iranian lawyers have issued an apologia of the social issues that pushed thousands of citizens to protest this year, urging authorities to safeguard the right to rebellion all while warning protesters of their potential to invite blowback.
Judicial authorities have been quick to brandish heavy sentences, arrests, and capital punishment against the rising swell of citizens who have less and less to gain from passivity in the deepening recession. In an environment of dwindling tolerance on both sides, the lawyers asked Iranian authorities to keep their retaliatory instincts in check.
“The right for civil protest and assembly is rooted in the right to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly which have been asserted in the constitution and numerous international conventions such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” the letter reads.
The lawyers’ letter lauds the initiative of strikers across sectors — from the generalized January protests (“against the conditions of the country’s economy and management”) to the strikes declared by truckers, factory workers, teachers, shopkeepers, university students, and farmers. The protests of Kurdish ethnic minorities in Iran’s border regions also figured in the lawyers’ letter.
Likewise, the letter’s authors validated strikers’ demands, including a more regulated cost of living, more affordable part prices for truckers, payment of back wages for factory workers, more liveable teacher salaries and the protection of public education, increased government efforts to mitigate symptoms of the recession, increased tolerance of student self-expression, and government intervention in regions suffering the effects of drought, i.e. Isfahan and Khuzestan provinces.
More “respect for the rights of protesters” is in order, the letter insists, adding that authorities are responsible for implementing “fairness, justice, and peace,” and for avoiding violent methods of engaging with citizen uprisings.
The letter ends by praising civil protests and social movements as the precursors to democracy and progress in Iran. While reiterating the demand that judicial and security authorities temper their responses to civic rumblings, it places an additional burden on Iran’s disaffected citizens: “we declare our solidarity and support for protesting social groups, and call on them to avoid violent methods.”
Arash Fattahi Boukani
Arash Rajabi Kermanshahi
Amir Salar Davoudi
Sadegh Saed Mouchesh