Women. Life. Freedom.

Author: Persis Karim
September 28, 2022
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“WOMEN. LIFE. FREEDOM.” This is the chant for the movement unfolding in the streets of Iran to throw off compulsory hijab and call for an end to repressive measures by the Islamic Republic. Since September 13th, when 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian Mahsa (Jina) Amini was arrested and was fatally beaten by Iran’s morality police, more than 50 others have died (this number varies depending on whether the government or human rights groups are reporting) and thousands more have been injured in this brutal crackdown. Women have been at the helm of these protests, bravely confronting security forces, and men have been showing up beside them in unprecedented numbers. People of all ages and backgrounds have been in the streets calling for accountability and change.
We at the Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies at San Francisco State University want to acknowledge the pain, distress, and grief that many here in the US and in the Iranian diaspora are feeling as we grapple with the events unfolding in Iran. The death of Mahsa Amini at the hands of Iran’s morality police has unleashed a new level of protest and action that has not been seen since Iran’s 2009 protests contesting the election results. The images on the news and on social media affect many of us, and we want to offer both solidarity to the people of Iran and support to our students, particularly those who have more recently come from Iran to study on our campus. The struggle for gender equality and human rights in Iran is longstanding; we applaud the resilience and bravery of young women and men, and the ways they are challenging the repressive conditions they are living under, particularly at this moment.
The Center would like to offer itself as a resource, a place to drop in and share stories, feelings, and ask questions. We also want to encourage students to connect with their peers, classmates, and professors to share their feelings about the events in Iran and organize their own responses. While we abhor and condemn what is happening to protestors, and are only catching a glimpse of it due to the government’s news blackout and internet shutdown, we also know that young people in Iran need us to amplify their voices, share their stories, and serve as their voice in a time of suppression and silencing. We know from our own context, that the assault on women’s autonomy and freedom is indeed a global issue and that women’s rights are central to human rights.
There are things we can do to support the struggle in Iran and also each other:

  1. Please repost videos/news items/images/announcements on your social media with these hashtags: #MahsaAmini #Mahsa_Amini #Iranianwomen #womenlifefreedom #iranprotests
  2. Follow the news, sign petitions, and learn about human rights violations on these websites:
  3. Sign Amnesty International’s petition to demand accountability and restraint, and read the report calling for urgent action on Mahsa Amini’s death.
  4. Reach out to your Iranian and Iranian-American classmates and students; ask them how they are and find out how you can support them.
  5. Form student groups, reach out to other communities on campus, host a teach-in, or ask your peers to come to protests with you; protests are ongoing in the Bay Area and will likely continue. There are  global protests scheduled on October 1 & 2—Facebook and Instagram will have announcements.
  6. Encourage your local and national media to keep this story front and center, and to not let it die in the midst of other news headlines; if you have knowledge of the situation, share it with others in the media, in your classes, etc.
  7. If you are struggling with your mental health, please reach out to the SF State Counseling Center for emotional support; you can also reach them at by phone at (415) 338-2208

Finally, the Center is located in 503 Humanities on the SF State campus, and is a place where we want to offer support, solidarity, and information. Please feel free to reach out to us; we are here on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
For more information about the Center, go to our website: cids.sfsu.edu or follow us on social media: @iraniandiasporastudies on Instagram or /CenterforIranianDiasporaStudies on Facebook. You can email us at: iraniandiasporastudies@sfsu.edu or you can reach us by phone at: (415) 338-1500.
Recent Media: On September 27, KQED ‘s FORUM (88.5 FM) hosted a show titled, “Women. Life. Freedom.” Among the guests were a 27-year-old student studying political science who was able to obtain an VPN and call in from Tehran. Other guests included Persis Karim (SF State Center director), community activist Hoda Katebi and Iranian-American artist and curator Shaghayegh Cyrous. You can listen to this show.