Updated: Dec 10, 2022
The former president of Iran warned rulers that they must heed protesters’ demands “before it was too late” in a rare public comment.
The 79-year-old Mohammad Khatami, a reformist who served two terms as president between 1997 and 2005 said that the “beautiful slogan” of “woman, life, freedom” showed that Iranian society was moving toward a better future. Khatami praised in his statement what he called the "perhaps unprecedented" involvement of students and professors in the protests and criticized the punishments and restrictions they had faced as a result. He also criticized the arrests of students in the violent crackdowns against the nationwide protests. His comments came in a statement to mark the occasion of Iran’s Student Day, on Wednesday, December 7.
Khatami’s statement addressed the current president Ebrahim Raisi’s government. Khatami said, “I advise officials to appreciate this presence and instead of dealing with it unjustly, extend a helping hand to them and, with their help, recognize the wrong aspects of governance and move towards good governance before it is too late.”
Women and students have been active in the protests that sparked after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in the custody of the morality police. She was detained because she allegedly wore her headscarf “improperly.”
Iran’s leadership, including President Ebrahim Raisi, described the anti-government protests as “riots” that were instigated by foreign agents. Raisi ordered security forces to “deal decisively” with the protesters.
According to the Human Rights Activists’ News Agency (HRANA), at least 473 protesters have been killed in the violent crackdowns against the demonstrations. At least 18,215 protesters were detained, including 586 students. The agency also reported the death of 61 security personnel. Iran’s judiciary recently said that five protesters have been sentenced to death after being convicted of “corruption of Earth.” The unnamed protesters were accused of killing a member of the Basij Resistance Force on November 3.
11 other defendants, including three minors, were handed prison terms for their “role in the riots”. Iran Human Rights director Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam said, “These people are sentenced after unfair processes and without due process. The aim is to spread fear and make people stop protesting.”
Rationalist International is keeping a close watch on the developments in Iran and will get you all the latest on the protests.