Iranian journalist Taghi Rahmani

Iranian journalist Taghi Rahmani, husband of Iranian rights campaigner and 2023 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Narges Mohammadi, speaks, at a press conference in Paris, France on October 6, 2023.

(Photo: Thomas Samson/AFP via Getty Images)

Iranian Human Rights Activists Condemn Calls for War With Iran

Nearly 60 activists warned that a military attack on Iran would damage "the legitimate struggle of the Iranian people for democracy and peace."

Dozens of Iranian human rights activists, including the husband of jailed 2023 Nobel Peace Prize winner Narges Mohammadi, released a joint statement Tuesday condemning recent calls for war against Iran, warning that a military attack on their country would undermine "the legitimate struggle of the Iranian people for democracy and peace."

The 57 activists published their statement as politicians in the United States, Europe, and Israel continued to lash out at Iran in the wake of Hamas' October 7 attack on Israel, claiming without evidence that Tehran was involved in planning the assault and—in some cases—pushing for a military response.

The new statement calls out by name the United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), a group chaired by former U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman. Two days after Hamas' attack, Lieberman and UANI CEO Mark Wallace urged the U.S., Israel, and their allies "to launch strikes against military and intelligence targets in Iran."

The Iranian activists warned that such an attack would "bring a massive avalanche of suffering and destruction upon our country."

While denouncing the Iranian government's "tyranny and oppression" at home and "tension-causing policies" abroad, the activists said they oppose "the direct and indirect call for a military attack on Iran, under any guise and with any pretext."

"We ask all Iranians not to allow opportunists to tie the struggle of the Iranian people for democracy, freedom, and peace with warmongering and calling for a military attack on our country," they wrote.

The statement was released amid mounting fears that Israel's assault on the Gaza Strip could soon become a wider regional conflict, particularly once Israel launches its expected ground invasion of the besieged Palestinian enclave.

In recent days, the Biden administration has mobilized missile defense systems and aircraft carriers to the Middle East, placed thousands of U.S. troops on higher alert, and sent additional arms to Israel in what's been described as an effort to deter Iran and Lebanon's Hezbollah from getting involved in the war on Gaza. Israel and Hezbollah have been exchanging fire intermittently since October 7.

U.S. officials have blamed Iran for recent drone attacks on American troops stationed in Syria and Iraq, even while acknowledging it's not clear that Iran ordered the attacks. In a speech to the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken declared that "the United States does not seek conflict with Iran" and does not "want this war to widen."

"But if Iran or its proxies attack U.S. personnel anywhere, make no mistake: we will defend our people, we will defend our security‚—swiftly and decisively," said Blinken.

Iranian leaders, for their part, have said they could be forced to act if Israel invades Gaza.

During a news conference earlier this week, Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said that if Israel and the U.S. "do not immediately stop the crime against humanity and genocide in Gaza, anything is possible at any moment and the region will go out of control."

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