Iranians in London, Ont. oppose the regime as global protests continue

Those in solidarity with a growing global protest movement against Iran’s theocracy plan to rally in Victoria Park on Saturday.

There have already been several rallies in London, Ontario. since the September 16 death of a 22-year-old woman in the custody of the Iranian regime’s morality police.

Organizer Besat Zardosht said Saturday’s event coincides with a similar rally taking place in Berlin, where there have been reports of around 50,000 pre-registered attendees.

« What we want is democracy for Iran, and for people to be able to choose who is going to rule them, » said Zardosht, who came to London 12 years ago as a student of the Western University. « We want minorities in Iran to enjoy their basic rights. »

The movement was sparked after Mahsa Amini was arrested in Tehran on September 13 for « inappropriate dress ». She reportedly wore her mandatory headscarf too loosely, in line with the country’s strict dress code in place since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Amini fell into a coma after being detained and died in hospital three days later. Police say she suffered a heart attack, while her family denies having had any heart problems. They say she died with bruises on her legs, while a coroner’s report released by state media linked her death to pre-existing medical conditions.

The Iranian government has ordered an investigation into his death.

Last week, human rights groups estimated that at least 201 people had been killed, hundreds injured and thousands arrested during protests the government described as a plot by Iran’s enemies .

« Now is the time to act »

After the revolution 44 years ago, protesters expressed anger over the treatment of women and wider repression in Iran.

« This time is different, » Zardosht said, « because it went viral, and all Iranians are united and they only want one goal, [for] the Iranian regime to leave. »

Members of London’s Iranian community protested at Western University on September 22 following news of Amini’s death. (Isha Bhargava/CBC)

Azadeh Erfanian is also going to the rally. She has lived in Canada for over 30 years and works in London as a social worker.

It has been « impossible », she said, to keep in touch with friends and family due to frequent internet outages she blames on the government, a problem that began before the protest movement.

The movement’s protesters are fighting for everyone’s rights, not just their own, she said.

« The whole world has been targeted to some extent, » she said. « Whether [people] care about the future of this world, the future of our children, humanity, love, freedom and women – now is the time to act, not just shake hands Or even cut their hair. We are far beyond solidarity through figurative actions. We need voices, we need strong voices. »

Amini’s death was the latest blow to what have been decades of oppression, Erfanian said.

« Mahsa wasn’t the only one, » she said. « If you’re upset, you have to do something. Otherwise, tomorrow will be late. »

London morning8:22Local Iranians calling for democracy and more freedoms

Besat Zardosht from London tells London Morning why she continues to organize protests here in Forest City to raise awareness about the situation in Iran.


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