Domestic critics of the Islamic Republic and its leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei have launched renewed attacks on the regime in recent weeks by voicing their protests in public statements and calling on the Supreme Leader to resign.
A well-known political activist in Iran Abolfazl Qadiani has also renewed his criticism of Khamenei. "Iranians will not experience peace and happiness as long as Khamenei insists on continuing his illegitimate rule", Qadiani wrote in a short commentary published by the opposition website Kalemeh on Sunday August 11.
Mr. Qadiani (also spelled Ghadiani), a former regime insider, has turned into a staunch critic of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in recent years.
In his latest statement, he has once again called on Khamenei to step down and pave the way for a referendum that would bring about "a secular democratic republic."
Qadiani, a senior member of the leftist Islamic Revolution Mojahedin Organization (IRMO, not to be confused with mainly foreign-based Mojahedin-e Khalq or MeK), was jailed following the post-election unrest in 2009. He was sentenced to jail once again in 2012 for two years when he also received 40 lashes as part of his sentence.
For a third time in March 2019 a court in Tehran sentenced Qadiani to three years in jail on charges of insulting Khamenei and propagating against the regime. His sentence also included forced labor which meant he should copy by hand the text of three revolutionary books.
He was arrested in June to serve the sentence, but a forensic doctor ruled that he was too ill and unable to tolerate the punishment, so his jail sentence was quickly suspended.
The latest sentence he received was for writing two letters to Khamenei, criticizing him for mishandling political power, and calling on him to resign.
Qadiani had recently also written a letter to President Hassan Rouhani, charging that Rouhani was not brave enough to stand by his promise of putting an end to the house arrest of opposition leaders Mi Hossein Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard and Mehdi Karroubi.
Qadiani said: "Rouhani is not brave enough to stand against Iran's despotic ruler," and "cannot be bothered to move even an inch" toward that objective.
He also charged that Khamenei "stubbornly and grudgingly" does not allow the opposition leaders' house arrest to end after nearly a decade.
Seven of Mousavi's advisers wrote a letter to Rouhani in late July, expressing concern over the health conditions of the inmates and called on Rouhani to take "an effective measure" to secure the release of the trio as he had promised repeatedly during his election campaigns in 2013 and 2017.
In another development, some 8700 Iranian political activists, journalists, war veterans and family members of those who were killed in the war with Iraq in the 1980s wrote a letter to Rouhani on Sunday, calling on him to take up "an effective measure" to release the opposition leaders now that, as they said, a recent defense statement read out at a Tehran court by former MP Mohammad Reza Khatami proved that what the opposition leaders had said about election rigging in 2009 was right.
Khatami had presented evidence that indicated eight million votes were added to the polls in favor of the ultraconservative candidate in the 2009 election – Mahmud Ahmadinejad – who was supported by Khamenei and the revolutionary guards.
In the meantime during the past few weeks three groups of 14 political activists each in Iran and abroad released statements calling on Khamenei to resign and pave the way for changing the country's Constitution and political system.
Iranian social media users overwhelmingly supported the call made by activists inside Iran, but some said the expression of support by some foreign-based activists could increase the government's pressure on others inside the country.
A few of the activists who signed the statements have been arrested and at least three have said they have been beaten up and harassed by government agents.
Media outlets under Khamenei's influence, such as the state TV, and those close to the revolutionary guards, such as Fars news agency, have typically characterized the activists' renewed campaign against Khamenei as "an attempt to support those who want a regime change" in Iran.