Cries of “Shame!” amplified through loudspeakers capped a protest Saturday afternoon outside the Russian Embassy in Ottawa that drew members of the city’s Ukrainian and Iranian communities.
About 200 people took part in the joint rally on the Charlotte Street sidewalk as a steady stream of vehicles, many honking their horns in support, marched past.
Organizer Kaveh Shakouri, who left Iran for Canada in 2008, said the Ukrainian and Iranian communities came together in part to protest Iran’s supply of drones to Russia.
Ukraine has accused Russia of using the drones during its ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
“We have common oppressors,” Shakouri said.
Names of the dead read
The other purpose of the gathering, Shakouri added, was to read out the names of 200 people in Ukraine and Iran who he said have died since Russia first invaded Ukraine in February and in the weeks following the outbreak of protests in Iran in September.
The protests followed the death of Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish woman who had been detained by Iran’s vice squad for allegedly flouting the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code for women.
People from all walks of life have taken part in Iran’s nationwide protests, with students and women playing prominent roles and taking a heavy toll.
The people whose names were read Saturday in Ottawa were all 25 or younger, Shakouri said.
“[It’s] a small sample of people who were killed,” said Ihor Michalchyshyn, executive director of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress.
Sam Pakparvar, who waved an Iranian flag above a banner that read “Woman. Life. Freedom”. said he was at the embassy protest on behalf of his wife Azin Rezaiean, who was unable to come because of her job.
Pakparvar said Rezaiean, a women’s rights activist, fled Iran 18 months ago “because she was under constant pressure from security forces”.
Doug Hume, a local teacher, brought his daughters to the rally. The family has gathered outside the Russian Embassy about every two weeks since the invasion of Ukraine began, he said.
“I need them to know that although there are so many things that are put in place to silence voices, it is important that they decide what their values are and try to make contributions that make better and safer world,” Hume said.