Ten Nobel Prize laureates and hundreds of other personalities across the world have joined their voices to urge "unstinting" support for Iranians who are protesting against the Islamic Republic in defiance of a bloody crackdown.
“Their victory would mean deliverance from a regime that denies free elections, free speech, due process of law, and personal autonomy in matters as simple as the choice of clothing," said a statement issued on February 1 by US-based human rights group Freedom House.
“The end of the Islamic Republic’s system of misogyny would constitute a global landmark in the long march toward a world in which women are treated equally," it also said, adding that the protesters “deserve unstinting support from freedom-loving people around the world."
The statement urged governments to sanction all Iranian officials involved in the repression and calls for the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) to be labelled as a terrorist organization.
The text was signed by some 480 global figures, including Belarusian Nobel-Prize-winning writer Svetlana Alexievich, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and American actor Richard Gere, according to Freedom House.
Thirteen Iranians are among the signatories, including footballer Ali Karimi, actor Golshifteh Farahani, actress Nazanin Boniadi and Reza Pahlavi, the son of Iran’s ousted Shah.
Iran has been engulfed in a wave of anti-government protests since the September death of a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini, while in custody for allegedly violating the country's headscarf law.
The demonstrations rapidly expanded into a women-led protest movement calling for the ousting of the theocratic regime that has ruled Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
In response, the authorities have unleashed a fierce crackdown on dissent, killing more than 520 people and detaining over 18,000, activists say. The judiciary has handed down stiff sentences, including the death penalty, to protesters.
Freedom House President Michael Abramowitz said the statement issued on February 1 "shows the remarkable unity of a broad coalition from around the world, across the political spectrum, and from all segments of society."
"The world stands with the Iranian people as they continue to risk their lives and well-being for their freedom."