Iranian protesters want regime change, says renowned rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh

There is a “clear demand” for regime change in the ongoing anti-government protests in Iran, internationally renowned Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh said in an interview published Thursday.

“What is increasingly clear is that there is clear demand for change in the regime,” Sotoudeh told TIME magazine.

“What the people want is regime change, and no return to the past. And what we can see from the current protests and strikes that are now being initiated is a very real possibility of regime change,” she added.

Sotoudeh said she anticipated more crackdown from Iranian authorities.

“The crackdown will continue. But so too will the protests. I in no way see a return to the past, no matter the nature of the crackdown,” she said. “Even if the people’s demands are not met, the reality will have shifted permanently. They will not tolerate the compulsory veil anymore.”

Sotoudeh, 59, has represented opposition activists including women prosecuted for removing their mandatory headscarf. She was arrested in 2018 and charged with spying, spreading propaganda and insulting Iran’s supreme leader.

Sotoudeh, who denied the charges, was sentenced to 38 years in prison and 148 lashes.

She is currently out of prison on a medical furlough.

In 2010, Sotoudeh was jailed on similar propaganda charges and for conspiring to harm state security – charges she also denied – and was released after serving half her six-year term.

The European Parliament awarded her the Sakharov Prize for human rights in 2012.

Protests erupted across Iran after Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman, was pronounced dead on September 16. She fell into a coma shortly after she was detained by the morality police for allegedly not complying with the regime’s strict hijab rules in Tehran on September 13.

The protests continued in several cities on Friday, videos shared on social media showed.

Iran Human Rights, a Norway-based group, said on Thursday that at least 83 people, including children, were confirmed to have been killed during the protests.

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