I need to begin my article by acknowledging the deaths in Iran. On Sept. 13, 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish-Iranian woman, was detained by the Guidance Patrol for not wearing her veil properly. According to Iranian law enforcement, Amini died of a heart attack at the police station, yet witnesses say Amini died as a result of severe police brutality.
Thousands of protests have erupted across the country since then. In these protests, Iran’s police have killed 224 people, with human rights groups saying even more have been killed. This includes children as well as human rights protestors who were arrested and sent to Iran’s Evin prison, which is infamous for violating human rights. On Saturday Oct. 15, a fire set ablaze in Evin prison killed at least 8 prisoners and injured dozens of others.
The Iranian government’s attempt at quieting dissent is abhorrent and a direct violation of human rights. While all people in Iran are suffering the consequences of the government’s iron grip, women are at the forefront of this battle. It is their freedom of choice the government refuses to acknowledge. It is their bodies, lives and entire beings that are being dictated by the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Since the country’s constitutional revolution in 1906, women have demanded change from the Iranian government. These protests in 2022 are not the first this country has seen of the people rallying together in the name of something greater.
Putting it succinctly: From 1941 to 1979, specifically in the 1960s, the women of Iran gained some (albeit a heartbreakingly low amount) rights under the rule of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. They gained the right to vote, the right to attend university and could be elected to parliament. In 1979 the Shah was overthrown and the Islamic Republic of Iran replaced the monarchy. Now, the Supreme leader is Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, whom the people are addressing when they chant “Death to the Dictator.”
I hear of children protesting against the Iranian regime. I’m overwhelmed with admiration for their courage, fear for their future and safety, and curiosity as to what we can do here in the U.S. to help.
It’s equally inspiring and heartbreaking to read about the youth’s rebellion against the government. These civilians demonstrate strength that could tear down mountains, and I feel helpless not knowing what we can do over here to help.
That’s why I’m writing this. When injustices occur in your own community, we can communicate with our people on how we can best provide mutual aid. But what are we to do when the government is blocking the internet from the people we need to support?
I don’t know. When the freedom of people is so disgustingly denied, grief becomes a stone in my hand. I can’t set it down. Privilege lets me hide it behind my back, but the weight is still there.
All I can think of is community care. Even here we can care for each other. I know it’s naive, but I have no choice but to believe that the ripple effect is real. I’m going to reach out to my neighbors and offer a helping hand. I’m going to check in with my little brother and see how he’s doing. I’m going to go for a run and feel grateful for the changing leaves and gentle breeze.
Human liberation is what we are fighting for. The people on this planet are not my competition. We all can win. We all can show up for each other.