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Iranian Political Prisoner Asks Khamenei: Why Are You Afraid Of Referendum?

March 13, 2023
2 min read
Iranian Political Prisoner Asks Khamenei: Why Are You Afraid Of Referendum?

Prominent Iranian political prisoner Mostafa Tajzadeh has again expressed support for a proposed referendum that would pave the way for a democratic system in Iran.

In an open letter dated March 12 and addressed to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Tajzadeh also said that officials in Tehran’s Evin prison confiscated his personal belongings and those of a co-detainee during a search of their cell.

Tajzadeh was arrested in September 2022 and later sentenced to five years in prison for repeatedly calling for structural changes in the country, as anti-government protests raged across the country.

Last month, Tajzadeh joined other political prisoners in backing a call by opposition figure Mir Hossein Mousavi for the "fundamental transformation" of Iran's theocratic political system. In a statement, the 80-year-old Mousavi, a former prime minister who has been under house arrest since 2011, called for a "free" referendum and the drafting of a new constitution.

"Yesterday evening, for the third time in the past month, the prison inspectors, an agency under the supervision of your appointees, raided our cell in Evin prison. During this prolonged and unusual search, they seized some of my personal notes and those belonging to Dr. Saeed Madani,” Tajzadeh wrote in his open letter.

Madani, a sociologist who has published several studies on social issues in Iran, including violence against women, child abuse, prostitution, and poverty, is serving a nine-year prison sentence.

"Why are you so afraid of the proposal to hold a referendum that you resort to such illegal measures in response to our support for Engineer Mousavi's statement?" Tajzadeh asked Khamenei.

“Even after unjustly imprisoning your critics, why do you continue to violate their inalienable and basic rights in prison?" he added.

Tajzadeh concluded his letter by saying that no pressure or attack will prevent him and other imprisoned critics from defending the basic rights and freedoms of the Iranian people.

Tajzadeh, a former deputy interior minister during the presidency of reformist Mohammad Khatami, has emerged as a prominent critic of the Islamic Republic’s policies and its leader.

He was previously arrested in 2009 during mass protests disputing the reelection of then-President Mahmud Ahmadinejad. He was released in 2016 after spending seven years in prison.

The Iranian authorities have cracked down hard on the ongoing protest movement triggered by the September death of a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini, in the custody of morality police.

Security forces have killed more than 520 people and unlawfully detained over 20,000, activists say. Following biased trials, the judiciary has handed down stiff sentences, including the death penalty, to protesters.



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