Iranian Nobel Laureate Describes Protests As 'People's Revolution'
By RFE/RL's Georgian Service November 18, 2022
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi has described the months-long anti-establishment protests rocking Iran as a "people's revolution."
In an interview with RFE/RL's Georgian Service on November 17, Ebadi said the nationwide demonstrations have shown that Iranians "do not want the Islamic republic."
"The Iranian people want a democratic and secular government," said Ebadi, who lives in exile. "Only a democratic and secular government can make the [protest] slogan, 'Women, life, freedom,' a reality."
The protests erupted in September after Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman, died soon after she was arrested by Iran's morality police for allegedly violating the country's hijab law.
What began as protests against the brutal enforcement of the mandatory head scarf law has snowballed into one of the biggest threats to Iran's clerical establishment that has ruled since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
The authorities have responded by waging a brutal crackdown that has killed at least 342 people, including dozens of children, according to human rights groups.
Around 14,000 people have also been arrested, and rights groups say the authorities are seeking the death penalty for at least 21 people.
"Unfortunately, this government has never listened to the voices of the people and has never opened its eyes," said Ebadi, a former lawyer and judge who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for her human rights efforts in Iran.
"This government has become very scared of the people," she added. "It has intensified its suppression of the protests in the hope of restoring calm. But [the situation] is getting worse by the day."
The 75-year-old Ebadi said that, despite the government's use of brute force to put down the protests, the "number of protesters who are taking to the streets is increasing every day."
The demonstrations have attracted support from all corners of Iranian society, including students, celebrities, athletes, artists, and activists.
Iranian officials have called the protests a "conspiracy" stoked by its rivals, including the United States and Israel.
Copyright (c) 2022. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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