TOPSHOT - A protester holds a portrait of Mahsa Amini during a demonstration in support of Amini, a young Iranian woman who died after being arrested in Tehran by the Islamic Republic's morality police, on Istiklal avenue in Istanbul on September 20, 2022. Amini, 22, was on a visit with her family to the Iranian capital when she was detained on September 13 by the police unit responsible for enforcing Iran's strict dress code for women, including the wearing of the headscarf in public. She was declared dead on September 16 by state television after having spent three days in a coma. (Photo by Ozan KOSE / AFP)

Iranian Christians have joined the battle for truth and justice following the death of Mahsa Amini, a young Kurdish woman who died in custody from injuries sustained at the hands of Iran’s morality police.

Her story has sparked horror and outrage, triggering a series of protests that have crossed the borders of the Islamic Republic, while Iran’s clerical regime has responded to the struggle for freedom and human rights with bullets and arrests, especially against women.

“We, Hamgaam Council of United Iranian Churches, Article18 and Pars Theological Centre, as part of the Iranian Christian community, declare our solidarity with the bereaved family of Mahsa (Zina) Amini and support their call for justice,” reads a recent statement by Iranian Christians.

“In unison with the citizens of our country, we condemn the systematic oppression of women and the widespread violation of human rights in Iran. At the same time, we demand freedom, justice, and equal rights for all Iranians.”

The Christian groups that signed the statement praise the “unparalleled courage” of protesters and oppose the mandatory hijab which they see as an “obvious violation of human rights”; for this reason, it must end like “other discriminatory laws.”

“[W]e are all together, regardless of ethnicity, religion, language or belief, in this fight against the shared pain of injustice, oppression and religious dictatorship, as well as our hope for life, freedom and equality,” the statement goes on to say.

In the last 43 years, since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, many women kike Mahsa Amini have died “only because they were different”; hence, “We pray for the families of the victims of these crimes and seek God’s comfort and peace for them.”

“And also we remind all our fellow Christians that standing next to the voiceless, standing up for their rights in the manner taught us by the Bible and the teachings of Jesus Christ, is not a choice but the spiritual duty of every Christian”.

For their part, Iranian authorities are taking a harder stance civil society groups and protesters, intensifying their repression. Scores of activists and journalists have been arrested.

At least 20 journalists have been jailed since the death of the 22-year-old Kurdish woman, this according to the Washington-based Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ).

Lawyers and advocates of freedom of expression such as Hossein Ronaghi, who was arrested last weekend, are also in prison. The Internet, social media and messaging apps  are still blocked.

“By targeting journalists amid a great deal of violence after restricting access to WhatsApp and Instagram, the Iranian authorities are sending a clear message that there must be no coverage of the protests,” Reporters Without Borders said in a statement.

As the crackdown against grassroots demonstrations continues in Iran, protesters are taking to the streets not only in the West, but also in the Middle East itself, from Turkey to Iraq and Syria, countries with a substantial Kurdish population.

Yesterday, in Qamishli, north-eastern Syria, hundreds of women marched against the brutality of the morality police, burning hijabs, and cutting their hair, an act that has come to symbolise the uprising.

“We support the protests and uprisings in Iran,” said Arwa al-Saleh, a member of the Kongra Star women’s rights organisation that called for the protest. “No to injustice, no to oppression . . . yes to women’s rights,” she said.