Once again, gathered together to the cry of "Women, life, freedom", dozens of activists and Iranians living in Madrid gathered this Thursday - this time in front of the Congress of Deputies - to ask for the support of the Spanish public and authorities in the face of the escalation of repression and police violence in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
"Iranians have been peacefully protesting against the Islamic Republic for 52 days, inside and outside the country's borders," said human rights defender Nilúfar Saberi in an open letter. "Protests continue to this day in more than 170 major cities in Iran in general, and in particular in universities. In these 52 days, Iran's Islamic authorities in their brutal policy of repression have killed at least 297 people with live bullets, of whom 47 were minors, and have arrested thousands of people. They have already begun handing down death sentences against some of them. And, quite possibly, the death penalty will be imposed on most of them.
Since the death last September of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini - three days after she was arrested and beaten by Iranian morality police for wearing a bad veil - rallies in Madrid and other European and world capitals have become almost a daily event.
In the Spanish capital, demonstrations are being called "every day, or once every two days if possible", explained Arash, a member of the Pro-Human Rights Association of Iran who preferred not to reveal his surname for fear of reprisals against his relatives who remain in Iran, to Atalayar. "We have demonstrated in Callao, on Gran Vía and in front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. And today, here, in front of the Congress of Deputies, we want to put pressure on the Spanish authorities to listen to us, to catch up. All European governments are demonstrating against what is happening with the Iranian regime, and we cannot be left behind", Arash added.
The meeting was attended by MEPs such as Sofía Castañón, Marta Rosique and Enrique Santiago. "What we have to do is to spread the word about everything that is happening inside Iran. We can do no more. We have to open the eyes and ears of the people who have power", Arash said.
Elika Jouibari, another young protester, told Atalayar that "normally these rallies, the bigger ones, are usually held on Saturdays. But today we had to coincide with the rest of the big cities, like other European capitals, the United States or France, where other meetings have been held today as well". "We can't let the fight, from here, from Spain, to decline", she stressed.
In this sense, one of the most important demands made by those gathered, and by members and activists of the Pro-Human Rights Association of Iran and the Peace Now Association, was pronounced by Nilúfar Saberi. "We are here in front of the Congress of Deputies", said the activist, "to underline that the Islamic Republic of Iran does not represent the Iranian people. That is why we ask the Spanish deputies to reduce diplomatic relations with Iran to a minimum. Support us against the totalitarianism of the Islamic Republic."
The Iranian diaspora in Spain and the rest of the world is calling for greater involvement of Western authorities by increasing sanctions against Iran, reducing diplomatic ties and supporting the Iranian struggle against the Ayatollahs' regime. "Religion and state are separate," chanted protesters outside Congress, demanding the ouster of President Ebrahim Raisi and calling for the establishment of a "democratic regime and secular rule of law" that guarantees freedom for all Iranians. Especially for women.
"Mahsa Amini is not an isolated case. She is one of hundreds of cases of people who have been killed by the Iranian regime," said Saberi, putting the spotlight on the vulnerable situation of women. "Hundreds have been killed for that piece of cloth".
The rally also served to remember once again the Spaniard who went missing in Iran while travelling on foot to Qatar - ahead of the start of the World Cup - Santiago Sánchez. The latest reports claim that Sánchez was arrested along with his translator after visiting the tomb of Mahsa Amini, and that he is currently being held in the Iranian intelligence detention centre in Sanandaj, in the west of the country. In addition, those gathered added Iranian and Kurdish songs to their list of chants and slogans, and paid tribute to their roots, Mahsa Amini and all others killed in the uprisings against a "murderous" and "human rights-violating" regime through famous melodies.