March 23
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One of the most significant reformist politicians in Iran, former head of the country's government Mir-Hossein Mousavi called for "fundamental changes" that should result from months of protests against the leadership in Tehran.

"Iran and Iranians need and are ready for fundamental change," the 81-year-old politician wrote in a statement published on his website and distributed by local media on Sunday, Feb. 5.

According to Mousavi, the protests sparked by the death of young Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini after her arrest by the vice police in mid-September 2022 are based on "interrelated crises." They are "economic, environmental, social, legitimate, cultural and media crises," he points out. The renowned reformer considers the current "structure" of the Iranian government "untenable" and suggests holding a "free and fair referendum" on a possible new constitution. As in the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the people have "the right to fundamental revisions in order to pave ... the path to freedom, justice, democracy and development" for Iran, Mousavi said.

The 81-year-old politician was one of the closest confidants of Iran's first supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. He headed the country's government from 1981 to 1989. After his abolition as prime minister, he left politics for 20 years, but returned in 2009 to run against conservative politician Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Mousavi lost the election, after which he repeatedly claimed that the results had been falsified. According to AFP, the former politician has been under house arrest for 12 years, although no formal charges have been brought against him.

On the occasion of Iran's Islamic Revolution Day, a state holiday marking the overthrow of the Shah's regime in 1979, Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei "agreed to pardon and reduce the sentences of a large number of defendants who were charged or convicted in cases related to recent incidents," according to a statement published on Khamenei's website Feb. 4.

Those accused of espionage, contacts with foreign intelligence services, murder and vandalism are not covered by the amnesty. How many prisoners will be amnestied is not reported, but according to state media, it could be in the "tens of thousands."

According to some reports, 15,000 people were arrested in Iran during protests related to the death of Mahsa Amini. According to AFP news agency, based on official data, the judiciary has so far sentenced 18 people to death in connection with the protests. Four death sentences have already been carried out, despite international protests.

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