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Iran Activists Lambast Recent Harsh Verdicts, Call For Serious Judicial Reforms

FILE - Some of the activists detained in Iran since July 2019.

A group of thirteen well-known political and civic activists in Iran have issued a statement Friday strongly condemning recent harsh court verdicts against dissidents, other activists and journalists.

The opposition Kalameh website has published their statement, which alleges a separate group has been formed within Iran’s conservative Judiciary that streamlines the legal process to issue harsh verdicts.

Iran’s Judiciary and security forces have arrested scores of people in the past two months and in early September long prison terms were issues against several labor activists, ranging from 8-18 years, simply for their role in strikes and peaceful protests.

After criticism and protest on social media and by some officials, the head of Iran’s Judiciary Ayatollah Ebrahim Raeesi ordered a review of some verdicts.

The signatories of the statement are “reformist” activists, who mostly supported the opposition candidate against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the 2009 elections. Among them is Abolfazl Qadyani who has called for Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei to step down.

While expressing satisfaction with the decision to review some verdicts, the statement says the judicial system needs fundamental and serious reforms in order not to become a political tool and lose all credibility. One measure is to disband so called revolutionary courts, which were established right after the 1979 revolution to cleanse the country of former officials and businessmen deemed to be untrustworthy by the clerical rulers.

Another measure urges to restore the right of political detainees to choose their defense attorneys and end the practice of “temporary detentions” that can last for months and setting astronomical bails for prisoners.