Women, Life, Freedom: Why Now?
Shaylin Modares Contributor
Nearly a month ago, over 500 people gathered to attend an event and vigil organized in solidarity with the people of Iran. Banners, speeches, and multiple news outlets flooded the Lower Atrium on October 20th. However, for those unable to attend the event and vigil, the situation in Iran may still be somewhat unclear. To understand the revolution happening right now in Iran, one must be familiar with its cause and the Iranian people’s deplorable living situation for the past 43 years.
In the past few weeks, thousands of citizens have taken to the streets of Iranian cities to protest the brutal murder of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini at the hands of the Islamic morality police.
Zhina (Mahsa) Amini was an Iranian Kurdish woman arrested on September
16th, 2022, because of an “improper hijab”. Tragically, Amini was murdered by the morality police during her arrest.
Today, the demands for justice transcend fighting for justice for Mahsa: it targets an entire movement. Since the 1979 revolution and the establishment of the Islamic Republic government, totalitarianism has reached a new high in the country. Dissidents, such as journalists, artists, political activists, writers, and environmental activists have all been sent to Evin prison, a place known for its employment of heinous methods including physical, sexual, and psychological torture.
The free press has also been essentially eliminated: local media, from TV programs to newspapers, is being completely controlled by the government. Even websites and
applications such as Instagram, Facebook, Netflix, and Youtube which may offer dissident opinions, are banned and censored in Iran.
As expected in a conservative patriarchal state, women and other minorities are at the center of the oppression. Under this government, women are forced to wear the “hijab” and cover their bodies from head to toe. In order to access education, girls as young as 6 years old must comply. This regime also bars women from doing the most daily life activities, such as cycling, singing, and dancing, on the basis that these “go against Islamic values”. It took Sahar Khodayari, a 29-year-old Persian woman, to set herself on fire in a sports stadium in protest for women to be allowed into stadiums in 2019. Ethnic discrimination against Kurds and Baluchs and discrimination based on sexual orientation are also major issues in the country, with ethnic minorities being overly represented in prisons and murdered in current protests and with queerness being punishable by death.
Economically, the country has been experiencing severe inflation for the past few years,
reaching 87% for food-related products in June 2022 compared to the previous year.
Economic sanctions imposed by the United States have contributed to the downfall of the country’s economy.
However, the mullahs and the country's religious upper class have not felt this
economic instability. While the people of Iran struggle financially in their daily lives, the
mullahs are sending billions of the population’s hard-earned money to their children, who are living freely abroad in Western countries like Canada, the U.S., and France. The children of the same officials advocating for more “modesty” and committing horrible crimes against dissidents get to not wear the mandatory hijab and be treated with fairness regardless of their sexual orientation, political opinion, or religion. These children live on stolen money and lead lavish lifestyles that directly rely on the suffering of the people of Iran.
Mahsa Amini’s death has become a symbol of the youth’s frustration with the regime.
The youth have spoken and they no longer want a regime under which the simplest joys of life, like holding their lover’s hand, is condemned, and where political dissidence is punishable by death. They want democracy and freedom, and they are willing to go to the streets and die for it.
One of the regime’s main tactics to reduce Iran’s fury is to completely withdraw all access to the Internet. Whoever tells the story controls the narrative. Isolating the country from the rest of the world allows the dictatorship to censor the voice of its own people while they continue to murder them without being held accountable. That is why your participation is crucial. The attached QR code, updated on a frequent basis, lists all the actions you may take to help the people of Iran.