On September 13, 2022, Mahsa Zhina Amini was arrested by the “morality police” of Iran due to the fact that she was “improperly” wearing her hijab. The young 22 year old was on vacation with her family when she was taken away to a “re-education camp” where she later passed away three days after falling into an injury induced coma. The passing of Mahsa Amini caused major turmoil in Iran as a multitude of women throughout time have faced such unjust treatment alongside many who have lost their lives. The fight for women’s rights has surged and as protests continue to get larger with each day, the Iranian government has completely shut off the internet, preventing their messages, and their fight for justice, from reaching the outside world. The burden of the fight against this long standing oppression should not only fall upon the citizens of Iran.
In the 1920s, women in Iran made similarly powerful strides towards gender equality. These monumental changes allowed for co-ed classrooms, women holding positions within local councils, gaining certain rights to vote, filing for divorce and even fighting for custody. Iranian women no longer possess any of these rights today. The Islamic Republic of Iran has been brutal and tyrannical as they have used the name of Islam to strip women of their basic human rights. Throughout the last 40 years, women have lost the rights we take for granted in the United States today, such as swimming at the beach with your family, singing, dancing at concerts and walking around in summer attire on a hot day. These actions can now lead to a death sentence.
This fight for freedom affects more than just the people in Iran. As many Iranian-American students still have family in the country, it is more important now than ever to be the voice of those who cannot be heard. They hear about the fears that their families are facing during the very limited time they get to speak to them. Even to Iranian-Americans, standing up against the regime in Iran may be intimidating. Many are aware of the consequences that could follow if their names get out after a protest or they go against the beliefs of the government. Oftentimes, this could mean not being able to return to Iran and brings the fear that they may be putting their families at risk.
As a community, it is our responsibility to stand together, to fight together and to come as one in support of a country of women who have fought for basic human rights for so long whilst also continuing to create a safe space for all Iranian students on campus. There are many ways not only students, but people all over the world, can help this fight for equality. First and foremost is the spread of proper information. People need to know about the fight, the deaths and the injustices happening within the country. This is a story many have not heard despite the severe effect it has had on such a great population. Major news sources have not made it a priority to cover and spread awareness of this story in detail if at all.
Students can attend protests and stand in solidarity with not just Iranians, but other members of the community that support the cause. People in Iran need to know they are not in this fight alone. Mahsa Amini was one of us. Let us be the voice she never had. Let us finally put an end to this suffering by sharing her story with the rest of the world. #Mahsa_Amini
“Traumatized and deeply saddened by the news of my home country, I feel more heartbroken than ever, as the women of Iran literally get killed for their right of freedom. The least anyone can do is be the voice of the people suffering, and not let these horrible actions go unpunished, or even worse, normalized.” – Ramtin H.
“As tensions have risen all across Iran and in turn its diaspora around the world, I can’t help but think about how the negative portrayal of my homeland has been further augmented by a regime that works to silence and oppress its population. As Iran bleeds, not only does my distance stifle my ability to fight for my people, I feel drowned out in a society that doesn’t hear our cries,” anonymous UCR Student.