LONDON: Protesters standing up to the brutal crackdown by the government in Iran need the same level of support from the West as Ukrainians in their conflict against Russia, a group of prominent exiled Iranians has said.
In an open letter signed by 77 people, including human rights activists and families of political prisoners of dual nationality, the EU, US and UK were urged to do more to support Iranians’ demands for freedom.
Protests erupted last month following the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old who died in the custody of Iran’s morality police after being detained for not wearing her hijab correctly.
The letter’s signatories include the daughter of freed British prisoner Anoosheh Ashoori, freed Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert and Kazem Moussavi, German Green Party spokesperson on Iran.
The letter accused the West of imposing “largely symbolic” travel bans and asset freezes on a handful of security forces members in Iran responsible for the crackdown, which has claimed the lives of hundreds of Iranians, and criticizes its continued dialogue with Tehran over the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal.
It read: “These young Iranians are bold and brave and not willing to give into the ruthlessness of the regime any longer. They are fighting for their life and they are fighting with their lives.
“Meanwhile, the Iranian regime is antagonizing their own population by imprisoning, torturing and killing. And it is antagonizing the ‘free world’ with a cruel game of chess, with a hostage-taking policy using dual citizens or non-Iranian citizens as pawns.
“Torturing them in solitary confinement, denying them basic human rights, destroying their lives and those of their families.
“Democratic countries have a responsibility to speak out, and have a choice to make: Will we side with the oppressor or with the ones screaming for freedom and justice?
“While Ukrainians are battling an outside invader, Iranians are fighting an inside enemy — the regime. The ‘free world’ has proven that it is capable of supporting the fight for freedom of Ukraine. Sanctions have been decided within days, clear actions have been taken.
“Now is the time to take action and to support the Iranian people in their struggle against a dictatorship.”