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Women Activists In Iran Ask Khamenei To Step Down


Giti Pourfazel (L) with another prominent women's rights defender, Nasrin Sotoudeh who is currently serving a long prison term for protesting forced hijab. File photo

In an open letter to the Islamic Republic's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, fourteen women's rights activists have called upon him to step down and pave the way for a transition towards a new political system for Iran.

Referring to a similar demand presented by fourteen political activists last month, the signatories to the new letter published August 5 have also protested what they described as "gender apartheid" and "patriarchal approach" dominating the country.

"Four decades of this theocracy has eliminated the rights of half of the country's population," the women's rights activists have asserted, calling for "civil and non-violent measures" to leave behind "this anti-women system," and compose a new constitution for Iran.

Giti Pourfazel, an attorney, who is one of the signatories in Iran told Radio Farda in an interview on Tuesday that fourteen women have signed the letter and “Twenty million other Iranian women could count themselves as the fifteenth signatory”.

All fourteen activists reside in Iran, which makes their action extremely dangerous for their freedom and safety.

Insisting on the necessity of a new political governing system for the country, the signatories to the letter have asserted they would carry on their campaign against the current situation to the end.

"We, fourteen civil rights and women's rights activists, are determined to continue our combat until victory through civil and non-violent measures. Like other pioneers [of non-violent freedom fighters], we go ahead by chanting 'no to the Islamic Republic,' the letter said.

Pourfazel also said, that women in Iran have endured 40 years of discrimination and added, “We cannot tolerate this degree of discrimination any longer”.

Furthermore, the letter has singled out "systemic tyranny and irresponsibility" as the leading cause of Iran's problems and the current chaotic situation in the country.

"In a world that women in most countries move side by side with men in science, economy, culture, arts, and politics, under the Islamic Republic women still fight for their basic human rights," the letter has stressed.

Nosrat Beheshti, Shahla Entesari, Zahra Jamali, Shahla Jahanbin, Ezzat Javadi Hessar, Nargess Mansouri, Farangis Mazloum, Kimia Norouzi Saber, Parva Pachideh, Guiti Pour Fazel, Fatemeh Sepehri, Maryam Soleimani, Sussan Taherkhani, and Fereshteh Tasvibi are the signatories to the letter.

Pourfazel also spoke about one aspect of discrimination against women, which is a ban to attend football matches. The issue has again become hot in the country after the international football association FIFA has reportedly given a deadline to Iran to stop the practice and allow women unfettered access to stadiums.

The intelligence agents of the Islamic Republic have already arrested at least two of the signatories, but have so far not acted against the signing of this letter.

The women have concluded their letter by calling on the Iranian nation to join them in chanting, "No to the Islamic Republic."

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