Fourteen civil rights and political activists in Iran have called for Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to step down.
In a statement addressed to the "thoughtful, intellectual, and considerate people in Iran," the signatories have urged their compatriots to leave any "tendency toward discreetness" aside, audaciously step in, and call for Khamenei's resignation and fundamentally amending the country's constitution.
"Herald a new national movement," the activists have encouraged the Iranian people, "by demanding Khamenei's resignation" since he is increasing his "unfair" power and authority daily.
The statement also says, "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. Sadly, the regime has imprisoned patriots by shameful means, and either killed or forced them to endure a lot of suffering behind bars."
The signatories to the statement are outspoken dissidents and former political prisoners, including documentary film director Mohammad Nourizad, former Chancellor of the University of Tehran Mohammad Maleki, labor rights activist Zartosht Ahmadi Raghib, and teachers rights activist Hashem Khastar.
"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. 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)."
In the current situation in Iran, and amid the absence of republicanism as well as freedom, the statement argues, none of Iran's problems will be solved without Khamenei's resignation.
Demands for Khamenei to step down are not unprecedented in Iran. In an essay published on the dissident website Kalameh in November 2018, former regime supporter turned opponent, Abolfazl Qadyani described lifetime appointments as the "mother of all corruption."
According to Qadyani, "The power in Iran, as everybody knows, is monopolized by velayat-i Faqih (Khamenei); therefore, since the supreme leader is under nobody's supervision and not accountable to any institution, he is responsible for spreading the corrupt effects of concentrated power for life across the land." In an earlier essay published on the same website last July, Qadyani explicitly called Iran a religious dictatorship and said the only solution was for Khamenei to step down.