An Iranian woman at the grave of her loved ones on Valentine’s Day  (undated)

An Iranian woman at the grave of her loved ones on Valentine’s Day

Iran Protests: Victims’ Families Mark Valentine, Demand Justice

Wednesday, 02/15/2023

Twenty independent trade unions and civic institutions in Iran have jointly published a charter, outlining their main demands to end the current inhumane situation. 

In a statement published on Tuesday, they said that 44 years after the establishment of the Islamic Republic the country's economic, political and social situation has plunged into a "vortex of crisis and disintegration." 

They added that no clear and attainable prospect can be envisioned to end the current situation within the existing political framework, calling for building a new, modern and humane society after the Islamic Republic.

They described about five months of street protests as an attempt to end the existing inhumane situation, noting that their efforts against the misogyny and gender discrimination, unrelenting economic insecurity, poverty and labor exploitation, as well as ethnic, class and religious subjugation have been suppressed by the regime. 

Logos of the independent trade unions and civic institutions

Outlining 12 main demands, they called for the release of all political prisoners, prohibition of criminalizing political, union, and civil activities, public trial of the leaders and perpetrators of the violence against protesters, unrestricted freedom of opinion, expression and thought, assembly, and social media as well as policies to preserve natural resources and ending environmental degradation.

In their charter, they also demanded abolition of the death sentence and prohibition of torture as well as a secular constitution. They said the organizations and institutions tasked with repression should be dismantled and the powers of the government should be limited.

They also urged normalization of foreign relations at the highest levels with all the countries of the world and equal rights for women and LGBTQ+ community. 

The Coordinating Council of Iranian Teachers' Trade Association, The Independent Iranian Workers Union, The Union of Student Organizations, Defenders of Human Rights Center, Haft Tappeh Sugar Cane Mill Labor Syndicate, and Council for Organizing Oil Contract-Workers' Protests were some of the signatories of the charter. 

Moreover, a group of families of those killed by the Islamic Republic announced the establishment of a council to push for justice and setting up “an independent judiciary." In a video statement released to media on Wednesday, they said as long as "the mullahs' hellish regime” persists, more people will be slaughtered “for the crime of patriotism and seeking freedom.”

“We, the families of the petitioners, whose loved ones have been murdered by the regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran for 43 years, demand the establishment of a judiciary independent of the political system, after the overthrow of the regime inside the country.” they added. 

On Valentine's Day, February 14, families of protesters killed gathered at their graves with flowers and red balloons and other symbols to mark the day of romance and love. Social media is full of photos of the families who marked the day in memory of their loved ones killed by the regime. 

Canada-based activist leader Hamed Esmaeilion, whose daughter and wife were killed by the IRGC in the shooting down of Flight PS752 in 2020, tweeted in memory of his lost wife and daughter in their last Valentine’s Day together. He said that his daughter was excited that he bought flowers for her too and kept them until they dried. 

According to human rights groups, the Islamic Republic has killed over 500 people, including at least 70 children, during its crackdown on the ongoing protests. 

In their historic joint event in Washington on February 10, eight prominent opposition figures held a joint forum, signaling the emergence of a leadership council in the diaspora to campaign for international support in favor of Iran’s protest movement. They also called for support from democratic countries to change the regime in Iran and establish democracy. The group is also working on a charter for a transition to an Iran after the Islamic Republic that would be ready at the end of the month. They said “the world must prepare itself for a day without the Islamic republic."

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