Fourteen Iranian women's rights activists have called for the resignation of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and for a "full transition" which would allow the adoption of a new constitution granting equal rights to women.
The activists, including lawyer Guiti Pourfazel, said in an August 5 statement published online that four decades of theocratic rule has led to "gender apartheid" and "erased" the rights of half of the country’s population.
"Anyone who protested this gender discrimination has been subjected to insults, humiliation, beatings, imprisonment and, in some cases, to torture and execution," the statement says.
The activists say they will push for their demands through nonviolent means.
"During the 40 years of Islamic rule, we have been marginalized through force, repression, and inhuman and anti-women laws, “the activists said, adding that they cannot tolerate the continuation of the current situation.
They voiced support for a similar statement issued in June by 14 activists inside and outside Iran, including outspoken filmmaker Mohammad Nurizad and former Tehran university chancellor Mohammad Maleki, who had also called on Khamenei to step down.
"During these highly harmful and damaging years, lovers of Iran have repeatedly attempted in friendly civil ways to prevent the leaders of the Islamic republic, specifically Ayatollah Khamenei, from following their destructive deviation. Sadly, the regime has imprisoned patriots by shameful means, and either killed or forced them to endure a lot of suffering behind bars,” the June statement said.
Nurizad was reportedly detained in early July and transferred to Tehran’s Evin prison on unknown charges. Several other signatories to the June statement have said they have received threats.
Criticism of Khamenei, who has the last say in all state matters in the Islamic republic, is considered a red line in Iran.