Great march in Montreal in support of the Iranian people

About 10,000 people marched in Montreal on Saturday afternoon, in support of the popular uprising in Iran, estimated Amir Kadir, epidemiologist and activist of Iranian origin who was present in support of the organization. The march left Place Émilie-Gamelin at 2:30 p.m. and went to Place du Canada.

At the start and end of the march, the protesters gave speeches calling for revolution and the overthrow of the Islamic Republic regime. All then observed three minutes of silence, while an audio recording of demonstrations in Iran roared on the sound boxes. The Montreal demonstrators are calling for greater international solidarity with the Iranian popular movement, represented by the slogan “women, life, freedom”.

Among other things, they demand the end of diplomatic relations and business relations between Canada and Iran.

This message was clear: “Canada, take action, put the regime on sanction” or “Canada, take action, impose sanctions on the regime” in French, chanted the crowd throughout the march. It also called for revolution and called for an end to the rule of the Islamic Republic.

“The institutionalization of tyranny and violence” and the “corrupt regime” no longer have their place “in our country”, affirmed a protester. The demonstrators demanded a democratic regime in Iran.

A woman, raised point, brandishing her sign. Credit: Zoe Arcand

During the speeches at the end of the march, the organizers recalled five requests made to the Canadian government. These demand the immediate suspension of any agreement, “any collaboration with the Islamic Republic”, and sanctions against members of this republic “infiltrated into Canada”.

« We want the heads of state to stop collaborating with those of Iran, » said a protester during the march.

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A demonstrator with her placard. Photo credit: Zoé Arcand.

The organizers also demand the recognition as a terrorist entity of the Revolutionary Guards and the imposition of sanctions on those responsible for the political regime, without affecting the population. They are also calling for legal action to be taken against those responsible for the downing of Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 by missile.

In recent weeks, the Canadian government has identified more than 10,000 people responsible or close to Iranian regime officials in a list of persona non grata, prohibited from entering the country.

$76 million has also been pledged by Ottawa to implement new financial sanctions against senior Iranian officials. This is at least the fifth demonstration in Montreal since September 22 in support of Iranian men and women. A large human chain was notably formed on Sherbrooke Street in the city center on September 27th.

An international, feminist and intergenerational mobilization.

Nima Machouf, activist of Iranian origin, politician and epidemiologist, took an active part in the organization of this demonstration and in the coordination of the international collective Woman-Life-Freedom (Woman-Life-Freedom). This demonstration was mainly organized by women, and several demonstrators displayed feminist slogans.

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Protesters with their placards. Photo credit: Zoe Arcand

She claims that the Iranian people’s movement will be « the first feminist revolution in the world ». She admits to being delighted and proud of the mobilization in Montreal and recalls that the demonstration of October 22 in the Quebec metropolis was coordinated with mobilizations throughout Europe. 120,000 people notably marched in Berlin, underlined Amir Khadir.

Several were present with their families, with their children. For one protester, it was important to show her daughter the importance of freedom and “to have a voice, to be heard”. She was also present with her mother, who made the revolution in Iran in 1979. « It’s an intergenerational struggle, » she said.

Thus, several children also brandished signs and chanted slogans in Persian, French and English, such as “silence is violence”.

The Iranian Women’s Association of Montreal was there near the end of the procession. She recalls that Iranian women claim the choice to wear the veil and not its prohibition. They also demand that politics be separated from religion: « We want Iran to be secular, » says one activist.

The demonstrators carried Iranian flags. A few were also waving Canadian flags. One of them had drawn the flag of the LGBTQ+ community on his sign. « The community is also oppressed by the regime », he recalled: its members must live illegally and « several are killed in the demonstrations in Iran ».

Throughout the march, we could hear the Persian and English versions of the song Baraye by Shervin Hajipour, which has become the anthem of the revolution. A Persian version of the song Bella ciao was also heard.

This march in support of the Iranian people was one of three demonstrations taking place on October 22. One of them demanded a change in the voting system, while the other took a stand against domestic violence.

“It’s a pity that they take place at the same time, admits Nimâ Machouf, stressing the importance of coordination between activists. Ours was coordinated with mobilizations in Europe and Iran. We learned about it via social networks after announcing it.

“One denounces state violence and the other domestic violence against women,” she underlines, explaining that the number of demonstrations will probably have had an impact on the strength of their respective mobilizations.

We have many causes to fight for in Montreal

Nimâ Machouf, Iranian-born activist, politician and epidemiologist.

Violent repression in the face of a popular uprising

The Iranian people have been revolting against the Islamic regime in power across the country since the death in custody of Mahsa Amini on September 16. The 22-year-old was arrested in Tehran by the moral police because her head was not covered properly.

Since then, dozens of other deaths at the hands of Iranian authorities have been reported by Amnesty International, including 16-year-old Sarina Esmaeilzadeh and 17-year-old Nika Shakarami.

The popular movement in Iran not only fights for the right of women not to wear the veil, but also aims more broadly for the overthrow of the Islamic regime in power.

Systemic discrimination against women, ethnic violence against the Kurdish minority, secularization of government bodies: the demands of the Iranian people are numerous.

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Women cut their hair to support the popular movement in Iran. A protester explains that in some Iranian provinces, women’s hair was cut when they died. This Montreal protester shows her hair cut to express her frustration with the Iranian regime and her support for the Iranian people. Photo credit: Zoé Arcand.

Note that this is not a revolution against the Islamic religion, but rather against the political regime in place.

The uprising was met with violent repression by the authorities. To limit the organization and spread of the movement, the Iranian government repeatedly blocked internet access in areas of the country where tensions were highest.

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