"Women, Life, Freedom"
"Women, Life, Freedom"
On September 13th, Jina Mahsa Amini, a 22 year old Kurdish woman, was arrested by the morality police in Tehran for not wearing the hijab properly in accordance with the Islamic Republic’s laws. In their custody, the young woman was severely beaten and eventually died.
In the wake of Jina Mahsa Amini’s death, protests erupted of unprecedented intensity and spread across the whole country like a wildfire. What started as a protest against the mandatory hijab rules (in effect since the founding of the Islamic Republic in 1979) and for women’s rights, has become something much larger: people are standing up against the authoritarian regime and years of oppression, human rights violations and arbitrary arrests.
Despite the regime’s notoriously violent crackdown on political opposition, Iranians have risen up against the regime before. In 2009, the Green Revolution was sparked by rigged elections and, more recently, protests have regularly flared up against the backdrop of a deteriorating economy. The scale and nature of the current protests, however, are extraordinary. Grief and anger have unified young and old, men and women, different faiths and different backgrounds. Women are publicly burning their hijabs and cutting off their hair as an emancipatory act of protest. People are chanting “Women! Life! Freedom!”, “We are all Mahsa, we are all in this fight together” and “Death to the dictator”, referring to the supreme leader of Iran Ayatollah Khamenei. Police vehicles, symbols of the violent harassment of women, are set on fire. While women and young people in their 20s are leading the protests, Iranians in the country and outside have united behind them not only in solidarity but fighting for their own fundamental rights and freedom.
Although the protesters are unarmed, the government is using excessive violence, including live ammunition, and most recently deployed the army to crack down on the uprising while severely restricting internet access. Thousands of arrests and dozens of killings have been reported. Undeterred, the protests continue, supported by more and more Iranian celebrities, actors, artists and athletes, and are spreading globally. Demonstrations take place outside the UN General Assembly and Iranian embassies, as well as in cities across the world. The attempt of the regime to silence and discredit the protesters makes the response and solidarity of the international community all the more crucial. Volt Europa strongly condemns the violence by the regime and fully supports the fight of all Iranians for equal rights and freedom.
Let us all amplify the voices of Iranians by collectively shedding light on their fight, sharing carefully researched information on social media, joining protests and calling our representatives to action. We call on media outlets not to give a stage to the Iranian regime’s narrative but instead to provide a platform to Iranians and human rights experts. Moreover, governments should urgently investigate the corporations that facilitate censorship and restrict access to social media. We call on our governments to immediately halt deportations of Iranian asylum seekers and to impose sanctions on regime officials. Also, our governments need to press for the prosecution of Iranian officials involved in the violation of human rights and the payment of reparations to victims or their relatives.
Change is possible. With each day of protests and each courageous woman walking the streets unveiled, the newfound self-confidence of Iranians becomes more and more irreversible. Volt Europa stands in solidarity with the citizens of Iran on their path to freedom!