Members of the U of O and Ottawa community come together
The Iranian Student Association of the University of Ottawa (ISAUO) came together on Sept. 23 at 6 p.m. at Taberet lawn to mourn and protest the death of Mahsa Amini (#MahsaAmini,) a 22-year-old Kurdish woman who was beaten into a fatal coma while in the custody of the morality police in Iran after being arrested for allegedly wearing her hijab loosely.
The ISAUO believed it was important to hold a protest on campus, and in Ottawa, in solidarity of the Iranians who are fighting back in their country.
“No matter whose freedom and right is compromised, students seek to promote everyone’s right for having justice and equity … It is expected to raise awareness for Canadians and everyone in the world toward what is happening in Iran,” said the ISAUO in an email to the Fulcrum.
Friday evening began with people making signs on the grass and coordinators lighting candles. Many young adults and families with young children arrived while the hosts played Persian music. A young woman handed informational flyers to passersby with a photo of Mahsa Amini and a QR code which, when scanned, led to a Wikipedia page shedding light on the current situation in Iran.
Prior to the event’s start, hosts kindly asked that people be careful when taking videos and posting photos on social media, warning them not to get anyone’s faces in their videos and photos. Many of those in attendance still have family in Iran, and feared repercussions if or when they return to the country.
Event coordinators began by welcoming and introducing the reasons behind their gathering. This was followed by a poem in Farsi.
On the ground in front of signs that read ‘Stop Violence in Iran,’ and ‘Why Is The World Silent?’ candles were placed in the shape of Iran. Throughout the night, the love for their country and its people was clear; they sang “Ey Iran,” the unofficial national anthem of the people, later in the evening. But the pain and hate for its regime and the suffering of civilians was strong and voiced through chants.
Various chants were yelled in Farsi by protesters including, “Zan, Zendegi, Azadi,” which translates to “Women, Life, Freedom.” Another chant: “Irani Mimirad Zelat Nemipazirad,” can be translated to, “Iranians Die but Will Not Be Suppressed.”
One man was present with his young daughter and her friend. He said that it was important for him to bring his daughter, even though she might not understand everything that was happening.
“I told her it is in order to protest against a law in Iran that is against Human Rights … when we are in a country where we have freedom, it is our duty to do something about it,” he continued. “I am Muslim, I pray three times a day. My wife wears a scarf, and that is the choice of my wife. But I know religion is an individual issue for everyone, and no government has the right to interfere in the individual issues of the people.”
The Fulcrum also spoke with two female graduate students who said they were protesting to support the people in Iran — especially the women.
When asked about their thoughts on the use of social media as a tool to spread awareness, one said, “It can be [effective], but it’s more effective that other governments help and take action.”
The ISAUO expanded on this, saying, “People are trying to convey their message and reveal what is happening in Iran. Social Media is the fastest and most accessible way to share information and increase peoples’ awareness.”
On Sept. 25, Iranians came together again in front of Parliament Hill to protest. At 12 p.m., they marched to 181 Spark St. — the home of CBC Radio-Ottawa.
“We will no longer be quiet, we will transfer the voice of our people to the world… A few words to Canada: ‘We need your help!'” said one protestor outside the CBC office.
Iran has blocked access to the internet and some social media platforms in certain areas of Tehran and Kurdistan, making it difficult for locals to reach the international community.
If you are curious about how to help, ask your Iranian friends what you can do or check out the different options on Green Matters‘ website.
The identity of the unnamed sources in this article has been confirmed and vetted by the Fulcrum. Due to the nature of the article, their names have been omitted, as they still have close connections to Iran.