Fifteen Iranian public intellectuals dismayed by four decades of the Islamic Republic rule, in a statement released on Sunday to coincide with the 39th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution of 1979, call for a UN-sponsored referendum for Iranians to choose a new political system for their country. The group of intellectuals which include internationally renowned figures such as Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Shirin Ebadi, Lawyer Nasreen Sotoudeh, and filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf state that they have lost hope in reforming the current political system in Iran and therefore the Iranian people should be given a chance to choose their own form of governance in a referendum.
The verbatim text of the statement:
Our fellow Iranians:
Four decades have passed since the establishment of the Islamic Republic, a government whose obsession with Islamization has left little room for Republican ideals. In these four decades, not only has our people’s suffering gone unabated but the establishment of a dual life, in which demanding pious pretense bears little relation to true inner needs, has caused untold personal crises and suffering.
Ignorance and incompetence of government officials and institutional corruption have left them incapable of solving the daily problems of our people. Discrimination and astronomical thefts of public resources have aggravated the sense of injustice. The content of so many unjust laws is the source of discrimination and the cause of violence. Instead of implementing even such defective laws, the judiciary is reduced to the executor of the political wishes of those who hold the reins of power.
So many women, lawyers, journalists, teachers, students, workers, and political and social activists have been harassed, arrested, convicted of serious crimes and sent to prison, solely for criticizing officials, enlightening public opinion, inviting the rulers to respect separation of religion from government, or demanding women’s relief from the mandatory veil.
The sum of the experiences of the last 40 years show the impossibility of reforming the Islamic Republic, since by hiding behind divine concepts, instrumental use of religion through deception, lack of transparency, ignoring public opinion, subversion of laws and violation of human rights principals, institutional violation of freedom and the fundamental rights of the nation, total incapability of resolving political, economic, social and cultural crises, and obstructing means of legal supervision and pacific reform, the regime has become the principal obstacle to progress and salvation of the Iranian nation.
It is the opinion of the undersigned that the way to solve these fundamental problems is peaceful transition from the Islamic Republic to a secular parliamentary democracy based on free popular franchise, complete respect for human rights and lifting all institutionalized discriminations, especially complete equality of women, ethnic groups, religions and all matters of cultural, social, political and economic choice. Relying on the rights of nations to self-determination, we the undersigned demand a referendum, under the supervision of the United Nations, so that the Iranian nation can choose its form of government, thereby discharging its responsibility for its future and alleviating the current crises through collective and effective effort.
Nasreen Sotoudeh, Shirin Ebadi, Narghes Mohammadi, Payam Akhavan, Jafar Panahi, Mohsen Sazegara, Mohammad Seifzadeh, Hassan Shariatmadari, Heshmatollah Tabarzadi, Abolfazl Ghadiani, Mohsen Kadivar, Kazem kardavani, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Mohammad Maleki, Mohammad Nourizad.
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