Content warning: discussions of violence, death and police brutality
In recent weeks, the world has watched as the Iranian government attempts to violently quiet protests in the wake of Mahsa, or Zhina, Amini’s death in police custody.
Amini, a 22-year-old university student, was arrested in Tehran while wearing her hijab out of accordance with Iran’s mandatory hijab law. After being taken into custody, her family was told she had a heart attack and a brain seizure and had been rushed to the hospital. Days later, she died.
In contrast to the statements released by the government which claimed Amini had preexisting health conditions that led to her death, witnesses reported seeing Amini being violently beaten by the police. Later, autopsies showed that she likely died of a stroke or cerebral hemorrhage due to head trauma.
A series of protests erupted which only led to more violence from the government and police brutality. More than 200 people have been killed by security forces while protesting as of press time. Protesters risking their lives to make their voices heard call for civil rights protections, the revocation of religious requirements and prosecution against the police involved in Amani’s death, among other things.
Across the world, people have risen up to show support for the Iranian protesters, and Californians are no different. UC Berkeley released a statement on the protests Sept. 23 with resources — but students, especially those who are not Iranian or directly connected to the protests, must be careful not to conflate reading and reposting such statements with tangible and direct support of the Iranian community.
According to the Iranian Students’ Cultural Organization, or ISCO, the best way that students can help is by continuing social media activism, signing petitions — especially the petition to remove Iran from the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women — and sending letters to local and national representatives.
Specifically, ISCO noted that continuing to upvote people in Iran and their videos or social media posts can help continue momentum in Iranian efforts. They suggested following the Instagram accounts @middleeastmatters, @iraniandiasporacollective and @from___iran and keeping up with their content, also while using the “MahsaAmini” hashtag when posting.
The group also suggested people visit the website “Freeiranfreeworld,” which can help individuals draft letters to the White House and other nationwide representatives, urging the officials to “socially support the Iranian people and stop legitimizing the regime as a government to be negotiated with,” according to ISCO.
“The greatest help to keep posting and sharing and talking,” ISCO representatives said in an email. “There’s also weekly protests and demonstration within and around most major cities in the world, having non-iranians there is always an amazing show of strength!”
There is never any excuse to remain uninformed about violence happening around the world, however unpleasant it may be to hear. Listen to your Iranian peers, stay informed and do what you can to stop the oppression of protesting in Iran.