"We steadfastly support the Iranian people's demands of 'Women, Life, Freedom,' condemn the decades of oppression at the hands of the Iranian authorities, and call on them to halt their outrageous violence against peaceful protesters."
Nearly 40 progressive U.S. organizations on Wednesday expressed support for Iranians--especially women and girls--who are defiantly protesting Iran's oppressive theocracy, even at the cost of what rights groups say is hundreds of their lives.
"As U.S. organizations committed to women's rights and justice across the world, we stand in solidarity with the brave people of Iran, overwhelmingly Iranian women and girls, who are demonstrating for their basic rights and strongly condemn the outrageous, widespread, and systematic human rights violations of the Iranian government seeking to silence the Iranian people's demand," the 39 groups, led by the National Iranian American Council, said in a statement.
The signatories continued:
Since the killing of 22-year-old Mahsa (Jhina) Amini at the hands of Iran's so-called morality police, Iranian protesters have bravely demonstrated for an end to the nation's mandatory hijab laws and broader system of repression. Women's rights have been the catalyst of these youth-led protests: giving voice and momentum to deeply held grievances of many Iranians that go to the very core of a system that has failed to serve its people, which is why these protests have cut across Iranian society.
This injustice is compounded by the reaction of the state to protests, which have been met with internet shutdowns and brutal violence from the Iranian security forces, including beatings, mass arrests, and deadly force. More than two hundred have been killed--and that number is likely higher--and thousands have been arrested for voicing their demands and hopes for a brighter future.
"We steadfastly support the Iranian people's demands of 'Women, Life, Freedom,' condemn the decades of oppression at the hands of the Iranian authorities, and call on them to halt their outrageous violence against peaceful protesters, release all prisoners of conscience, and heed the rightful calls of Iranian people for change," the groups' statement affirmed.
Many of the victims of the Iranian crackdown have been members of ethnic minorities, including Baluchis, Kurds, and Azeris.
One Azeri, 16-year-old Asra Panahi, died after security forces stormed Shahed Girls High School in Ardabil on October 13 and brutally attacked students who refused to sing a song praising Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Iranian authorities dispute the cause of Panahi's death, claiming she suffered from a congenital heart condition.
In what many Iranians now call "Bloody Friday," regime forces shot dead at least 66 Baluchi people, including children, and wounded hundreds more during an attack on worshippers after Friday prayers in Zahedan on September 30.
\u201cAsra Panahi, a 16-year-old Iranian student, was reportedly \u201cbeaten to death\u201d by security forces for refusing to sing a pro-government anthem.\n\nThe Iranian government has denied the allegations and a man claiming to be her uncle said she died from a heart condition on state TV.\u201d— Middle East Eye (@Middle East Eye) 1666204200
Some Kurdish-Iranians have fled the country, risking being shot dead by Iranian security forces along one of the world's most militarized borders in a bid to find refuge in Iraqi Kurdistan. Those fleeing include women, some of whom have joined Kurdish armed forces.
One 19-year-old Kurdish-Iranian who made the perilous journey to take up arms in defense of her people described her treatment at the hands of Iranian forces in Sanandaj, a Kurdish-majority city that's seen the biggest protests outside the capital Tehran.
"They pulled my hair. They beat me. They dragged me," the woman, whose real name is not given to protect her safety, toldCNN. "At the same time, I could see the same thing happening to many other people, including children."
"I want to fight for the rights of women," she added. "I want to fight for human rights."