‘Stand in Solidarity with the Women of Iran’: LSU Students and Iranians Protest Nation’s Human Rights Violations | New
Students and members of the Iranian community gathered in Free Speech Alley on Friday with placards, flyers and anger to protest against human rights abuses in Iran.
The LSU protest is one of many international protests following a series of human rights abuses by the Iranian government, in particular the September 16 death of Mahsa Amini.
Nationwide protests in Iran were sparked by the death of Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman who was arrested by Iranian police for an alleged dress code violation, according to a September 23 Washington Post article. .
She has since become a symbol “of national anger against poverty, repression, clerical control and government impunity”, according to the article.
More than 7,000 miles away in Baton Rouge, about 60 protesters stood in Free Speech Alley and handed out flyers, spoke to passing students, chanted and held up signs that read ‘dictatorship, no thanks’ and “support Iranian women”.
— maddie scott (@madscottyy) September 23, 2022
Elnaz Parsaeian, 30, is an Iranian-born pharmacist who moved to the United States with her father when she was one year old and returned to Iran when she was 11 to learn its culture and language. origin. At age 17, she returned to the United States and has remained there ever since.
“I want to please ask Americans all over the United States to please, please, please support Iranian women,” Parsaeian said. “We are not asking for money. We do not ask for donations. We simply ask to be the voice of Iran.
According to Parsaeian, many of those present at the protest are in the United States on visas, which means they may have to return to Iran if they cannot find jobs or need to visit family. Many protesters wore sunglasses, hats and masks to hide their faces for fear that the Iranian government would identify them.
“You don’t even know what will happen to these people,” Parsaeian said. “Once they enter Iran, they can be arrested. Everything can happen. So I guess more for their own safety and that of the family, they don’t want anyone to see their face, be sent to Iran, [or for] anything that might happen to their family.
Due to the Iranian government’s limitation of internet access across the country, including bans on Instagram and WhatsApp, Parsaeian has not been able to contact her family in Iran for three days, adding that she is scared. , worried and devastated.
Most of the Iranian protesters at the event also cannot contact family members and relatives, she said.
“I’m angry. I’m sad. I’m upset,” Parsaeian said. “I would like to be where I can fight with my people. But unfortunately, I’m here, and I want to do something. But I am very, very angry. That’s wrong. It’s not even about religion. These are women who want freedom. They want to have the choice. »
Under the current regime, women have no freedom, Parsaeian said. She thinks it has to stop.
Jamshed Khomidov, a second-year anthropology student, is not Iranian, but rather Tajik, but attended the protest in support of his Iranian friends. Tajikistan shares deep cultural and ethnic ties with Iran, adding to Khomidov’s frustration at seeing his Iranian friends and wives suffer these problems.
“It’s really hard to see the Persian world going through so much right now,” Khomidov said. “And it just makes my heart sad.”
Khomidov said he finds the problem rooted in the Iranian government, not the Islamic faith.
According to Khomidov, the Iranian government imposes ideologies on the people. This, he says, is where the problem lies. The Iranian government should separate church and state and not force women to wear the hijab, he said.
The hijab, a religious head covering worn by many Muslim women, can be beautiful if it’s a freedom of choice, he said.
“Islam is not the problem. The government is,” Khomidov said. “Islam is a beautiful religion, and I think when people hear anything about Islam in the media, they’re like, ‘Oh, well, Islam is the problem.’ Islam is not the problem.
Another protester, Amir Vatan, said his entire extended family was in Iran and he had trouble contacting them through their family group chat on WhatsApp, he said.
Vatan said the last time he spoke to his sister, she said she could barely connect to the internet.
Not only are there human rights issues at stake, but there are economic problems in Iran that are leaving many people hungry, Vatan said.
“This diet has been so inadequate,” Vatan said. “They cannot bring bread to the table of the people. There are places in the country of Iran where people lack the minimum amount of food they need during the day. They don’t have drinking water.
Mahsa Amini’s death is not the only event that has sparked protests, he said, but the culmination of pressure from the Iranian government over the past 40 years. Since the current regime took power following the 1978 Iranian revolution, the Iranian people have lost their freedom of expression, Vatan said.
The revolution took place when the Pahlavi dynasty, which had ruled the country since 1925, was overthrown and replaced by a socially conservative Sharia-practicing Islamic Republic.
“I hate this regime because where we grew up we saw this oppression for years, and it just happens and happens until someone stops it,” said LSU graduate student Mohammad. who requested that the rest of his information not be included. “So we are all asking for help from all over the world to hope for freedom, women[‘s] freedom and to help us have a normal life, just a normal life. Nothing more.”
This person told me that she was afraid of being detained upon returning to Iran, but chose to protest. “I’m sad and I’m angry because of everything that’s happening in my country,” they said. “That’s why I decided to speak up. I [won’t] keep quiet. No more silence for anyone. pic.twitter.com/fJgnCwceuW
— maddie scott (@madscottyy) September 23, 2022
Mohammad has not heard from his family in Iran for ten days because the Iranian government is preventing the dissemination of information, he said. Despite this, Mohammad thinks the new generation is brave because they are dying on the streets right now.
“[Mahsa Amini] was innocent,” Vatan said. “She died for nothing, and I believe that was the trigger for this great movement that we see spreading around the world.”
While Vatan is afraid of being detained upon his return to Iran, he decides to speak out because he is angry with what is happening in Iran.
He will not remain silent, he said.
“I’m really grateful to the people and the students at LSU,” Vatan said. “Students [have] always been a great voice, whether in Iran or outside Iran. They motivate people. They are educated and they know this situation. They analyze the situation well and I am so grateful to be in this community.