Mahsa Amini Iran protests looking like an Iranian-Canadian


In 2002, I left Canada to visit my mother’s country of origin, Iran. One day I was waiting for my cousin to come home from school and when she appeared I stuck my head out the apartment window to greet her. My family quickly pulled me in and warned me of the strict consequences of not covering my hair. I was shocked that this was one of the fears Iranians lived with every day. I had never experienced this kind of fear. I was 10 years old.

Now, 20 years later, that same warrant resulted in the death of 22-year-old Mahsa (Zhina) Amini when she was detained by Iran’s so-called morality police. Amini’s tragic death sparked a call for accountability and led to days of mass protests against the Iranian regime.

In Iran, women risk their lives by walking through city centers without their headscarves. Videos shared on social media show protesters chanting « Death to the dictator », Reuters reported. At least 83 people have died in the protests, according to advocacy group Iran Human Rights. The government imposed an internet shutdown.

This is not the first time that Iranians have mobilized to protest. In 2009, deadly protests erupted after a presidential election that many believed was rigged. Several people were killed, including Neda Agha-Soltan; she was shot in the chest and a video of her death was shared around the world. She was reportedly shot dead by a member of the Basij militia.

For more than 40 years, Iranians have been forced to follow oppressive laws with harsh and deadly penalties for disobedience.

In a recent video, an elderly woman sings with protesters, headscarf in hand with her gray hair exposed. Given her age, I can only imagine that she has lived in Iran long enough to see the damage this regime has done to the country.

During my visit, I remember the rich culture, the friendly people, the wonderful architecture and the delicious taste of the food. The regime has tainted Iranian culture with violence and restrictive laws created to oppress and silence its people.

My mother fled Iran in 1980 after the revolution. She lived in Canada for more than 35 years with the dream of returning to her native country even though she feared being killed or detained upon her return. When I visited Iran, she could not join my father and me. Unfortunately, she never saw her homeland again due to the political situation. She died before her dream came true.

As someone who watches from afar, awareness is my only power. For me, my friends and my family members, it is extremely difficult to watch. We feel helpless. Some members of the diaspora choose not to speak out; they tell me that they have lost all hope. Personally, I feel guilty. I feel guilty for living freely while my cousins ​​constantly fear for their safety. I feel guilty for living hand to mouth while people are being killed and tortured in my country. I feel guilty for the rights I take for granted, the same rights that Iranians die for.

Before the internet shut down, I received messages every day from my social media followers begging me to help them. They are children, teenagers and even adults. The Iranian people desperately need change. Since the internet was filtered, I don’t get these messages as often, so I take it upon myself to be their voice.

The more we speak out, the more likely those in power will pay attention and come together to create change. We may not know who, how or when, but what matters most is that the world is listening.

I am a Canadian of Iranian and European descent. Today I have a significant number of Iranians on Instagram and YouTube. I am very close to my culture, I like to create fun content while connecting to my Iranian roots. After Amini’s death, I realized the true importance of my voice and my social media platform. I urge others with big rigs to do the same. I ask anyone reading this to talk about it, post about it, and keep the conversation going.

Some things you can do to help people in Iran: Keep posting and talking about what’s going on. Contact your ministry of foreign affairs, your representatives and your leaders. Urge them to respond to the uprising. Demand that your leaders denounce human rights violations and organize demonstrations in front of the Iranian embassy in your country or demonstrations in your city.

Iranians deserve to live in peace, they deserve an Iran free from unjust control, discrimination, abuse and murder. They deserve a free Iran. Zan, Zendegi, Azadi (Women, Life, Freedom).

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