Trigger Warning: This post deals with violence towards women, violence towards humans, and egregious abuses of power.
Women, Life, Freedom; Zan, Zendegī, Āzādī; زن زندگی آزادی has become one of the main slogans for an incredibly important and crucial global protest that is taking place right now. For over 2 months, life and death protests are taking place in Iran. The protests are focusing on the perpetual degradation of human rights with women bearing a large brunt. Many have declared the current state affairs as gender apartheid. We need to be talking more about what is happening with the people of Iran and how best to support them. The protests were started after the brutal murder of a woman due to a portion of her hair being visible outside of her hijab.
On September 16 of this year, a 22-year-old woman, named Mahsa Amini, was pronounced dead at a hospital in Tehran, Iran.
She had been picked up and arrested by The Guidance Patrol – what has become known as the Morality Policy under the current Islamic State Regime. She was picked up because according to the arresting warrant, she was incorrectly wearing her hijab in public. The official report was that Mahsa suffered a heart attack while she was being processed at the police station and fell into a coma. Further official statements blamed an underlying illness but countless eyewitnesses at the police station that Mahsa was at, as well as leaked medical scans after her death, state that Mahsa was severely beaten and tortured by police and that her death was brought on by blunt force trauma which caused severe cerebral hemorrhage and induced a stroke.
Mahsa’s brutal death at the hands of the Iranian state has become a powder keg for nationwide protests which has not been seen since 2009. Women flooded the streets removing their hijabs and cutting their hair in defiant, bold, and brave protests, crying out in all ways for justice for Mahsa and an end to gender apartheid practices. As of this month, two months after the death of Mahsa, Iran Human Rights reports that over 416 people (including 43 under the age of 18) have been killed by police and the state. Police forces have freely open fired upon crowds. More than 16,000 people have been arrested and held against their will.
For those wanting a larger context, in 1979 a massive uprising which would later be called the Islamic Revolution, saw the overthrow of a monarchy to an Islamic Republic under the leadership of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. This revolution became an Anti-Western Islamist Theocracy. In the same year of the successful coup/revolution, Iran issued rigid mandatory dress codes for women which included public mandatory veiling. In less than 4 years, the mandatory veiling became not only standard but any form of violation of public veiling became a punishable offense. The law stated that women caught without veiling or proper hijab could be sentenced to whipping and received up to 74 lashes. Public protests against the ever-growing restrictions of veiling have been mainstays since 1979.
Which brings us back to the importance of Mahsa Amini.
Mahsa had been recently admitted to university and had wanted to become a lawyer. Her family have been very vocal in stating that Mahsa was an extremely healthy young lady and did not have any previous or persistent health conditions as declared by the Iranian government. She had traveled to Tehran to visit her brother when she was arrested by The Guidance Patrol. Within two hours of her arrest, Mahsa was in a coma. Mahsa Amini died on September 16. The arrest and murder of Mahsa was reported by journalist Niloofar Hamedi.
Niloofar was arrested on September 21st for her role in sharing Mahsa’s story and a photo of Mahsa’s parents crying at the hospital. She is still being held at the Evin Prison in Tehran.
Due to continual protests, Iran has implanted regional internet shutdowns. Social medias outlets, news reporting, and publicity has been heavily censored. It was originally reported that over 15,000 people have been found guilty and sentenced to death due to their participation in the nation-wide protests. 308 University Students and 44 minors are among those captured by the regime. Iran Human Rights have only confirmed five people/protestors have been charged and sentenced to death, which is still five too many.
As of November 23rd, the global community has started to get word that the Iranian government has shut down water, electricity, and internet in the Kurdish City of Mahabad, invaded the city with war equipment and attacked people within their own homes. The Kurdistan province is being heavily targeted by the Iranian government due to Mahsa Amini being from Kurdistan and her hometown being one of the first places outside of Tehran to actively protest.
As of right now, multiple countries have issued ‘sanctions’ to the Iranian Regime but news reporting and publicity is still on social media apps and not more mainstream. We need to be talking about this more. We need to focus on the horrors and injustices that most Iranian people are having to endure due to the gender apartheid and fundamental ideologies being used by the Iranian Government. We need to start doing more.
We here at FAR, keenly live the motto “Women, Life, Freedom” so let’s make sure that all peoples world wide and those in Iran also can bask in the truth and power of “Women, Life, Freedom; Zan, Zendegī, Āzādī; زن زندگی آزادی,
Here are some links if you are interested in helping the people of Iran.
Contact your State Representatives and Congresspeople
Donate to Center for Human Rights in Iran
Anjeanette Leboeuf currently works at Saint Louis University, She is currently investing time figuring out how best to support the people of Iran, hit the pavement, and help to maintain awareness, solidarity and events towards making a new and better world.