Female Iranian lawmaker denounces ‘tyranny,’ ‘privileges’ of officials

Special to WorldTribune.com

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

An outspoken Iranian female lawmaker says “tyranny,” as well as “parallel” state institutions and centers of power, are destroying the “republican” element of the country’s political system.

Parvaneh Salahshuri / Tasnim

In a speech to parliament on December 9, Parvaneh Salahshuri also accused the clerical establishment of failing to address the problems of the people, saying: “Except for a minority that enjoy privileges, we have abandoned the rest of the people.”

“If [authorities] were among the people, they would definitely feel the poverty and misery” of Iranians, Salahshuri added.

Iranian media reported that Salahshuri’s speech angered her hard-line colleagues who shouted and asked for her microphone to be turned off.

Salahshuri’s comments follow several days of protests across Iran last month that were triggered by gasoline-price hikes and a rationing plan.

Estimates vary wildly of the death toll from Iranian officials’ response to the protests, but Amnesty International says at least 208 people have died as a result of what it called a “shameful disregard for human life.”

The real number of dead is likely to be higher, according to the London-based human rights watchdog.

Iranian officials have not released any figure on the death toll.

Salahshuri, a sociologist, had come under pressure in the past for calling for the release of political prisoners and for raising some of the issues women face in a country where they suffer from legal and cultural discrimination.