Residents of the Iranian capital displayed solidarity with Kurdish and Baluch cities in Iran amid fears that the nationwide protests, which the Geneva Summit for Human Rights said have “bloomed into a full-fledged revolution,” will trigger more violence across the country. 

The Islamic Republic of Iran’s ayatollah regime, under Ali Khamenei, has disproportionately targeted the country’s Kurdish minority, which constitutes approximately 15% of Iran’s total population. 

The massive anti-regime protests began in mid-September after 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini died in the custody of Iran’s “morality police,” for failing to wear her hijab, or Islamic head covering, to code. 

On Saturday, another Kurdish woman, Nasrin Ghaderi, a Ph.D. candidate in philosophy, was killed after being severely beaten with batons during Friday protests in Tehran. Ghaderi’s death enflamed significant protests, especially in Kurdish cities in Iran. 

Human rights monitoring organizations estimate that the regime’s security forces have killed more than 300 civilian protesters, including 40 children. At the same time, there are fears that the lethal violence will soon escalate even further. 

Iran’s political elite has vowed to stop the protesters and labeled the civilian opponents of the regime “terrorists.” 

In an open letter signed by 227 of the Iranian parliament’s 290 members, the lawmakers vowed to teach the protesters “a good lesson.” 

“We, the representatives of this nation, ask all state officials, including the Judiciary, to treat those, who waged war [against the Islamic establishment] and attacked people’s life and property like the Daesh [the Islamic State terrorists], in a way that would serve as a good lesson in the shortest possible time,” the letter said. 

The lawmakers wrote that they intended to “prove to all that life, property, security and honor of our dear people is a red line for this [Islamic] establishment, and that it would show no leniency to anybody in this regard.” 

The ayatollah regime has tried to shift blame to the U.S. and Israel for the growing protests throughout Iran, with Khamenei telling students in October that “these riots and insecurities were designed by America and the Zionist regime, and their employees.” 

Despite the ruse, angry Iranian students confronted Khamenei, saying, “Our enemy is right here; they lie to us when they say it’s America.”

Leading voices in Iranian academia are gradually daring to speak up against the dictatorial Islamic regime. 

On Monday, almost 600 university professors and academic researchers in Iran released a statement demanding the unconditional release of students arrested during the ongoing anti-regime protests. 

“Unfortunately, a significant number of students in educational centers are facing punishments like arrests, academic suspension, ban on entering universities and dormitories, etc., and they and their families have been subjected to physical and mental threats and harassment in an organized and targeted manner,” the joint statement read. 

Javaid Rehman, a senior United Nations official and special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran, recently estimated that the regime has potentially arrested more than 14,000 protesters since September, disproportionally targeting intellectuals and academics. 

“Over the past six weeks, thousands of men, women and children– by some accounts, over 14,000 persons – have been arrested, which includes human rights defenders, students, lawyers, journalists and civil society activists,” Rehman said. 

It is unclear how or if the anti-regime protests inside Iran will affect the stalled negotiations on the world stage related to an Iranian nuclear program. 

Robert Malley, the Biden administration’s special envoy for Iran, recently said Washington’s priorities have changed in light of the growing protests inside Iran, and Iran’s export of lethal drones to the Russian military for use in Ukraine. 

“It’s not on the agenda because nothing has changed,” Malley told Aaron David Miller, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, regarding the nuclear negotiations. 

“It’s really not our focus right now. … We’re not going to focus on something that is inert when other things are happening,” Malley said.

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