Iran faces global feminist accountability as Los Angeles joins protests

Newsha Niazmandi was born and raised in Iran and moved to the United States when she was 17 years old. In recent days, her thoughts have centered on another young woman living in Iran – whose death touched and affected global tension.

Mahsa Amini, 22, died last week after being detained by Tehran’s morality police, accused of not wearing a headscarf properly. Days of street protests in several Iranian cities turned bloody as protesters burned headscarves and cut their hair in defiance of strict dress codes.

“It’s a feminist issue. “Everyone should understand that women are fighting for their freedom,” said Nyasmandi, one of hundreds of protesters who gathered outside the Wilshire Federal Building in Westwood on Wednesday night.

“They go down the street trying to protest, and they are brought down,” she said of people in Iran. “If you watch the videos there, they don’t care if you’re a woman or not; they don’t care if you have a hijab – they just want to crush you.”

The hijab, a headscarf worn by some Muslim women, has been mandatory in Iran since the 1979 revolution. The United Nations Human Rights Council said Iran’s morality police are attacking women it accuses of not wearing the hijab properly, the Associated Press reported.

According to the United Nations, videos have emerged showing women being beaten with batons, thrown into police trucks and slapped in the face because they did not cover their hair completely.

Amini was born in Saqqaz, western Iran, and was traveling to Tehran with her family when she was arrested on 13 September. She died three days later. Police denied Amini was mistreated and said she died of a heart attack, while her family said she did not suffer from heart disease and was in good health, many media outlets reported.

Independent experts linked to the United Nations said that Amini was beaten by the morality police, but did not provide evidence. The UN Human Rights Office has called for an investigation into her death.

“Iran’s security forces will continue to feel emboldened to kill or injure protesters and prisoners, including women who have been arrested for defying arbitrary compulsory veil laws, if they are not held accountable,” Diana Eltahawy, Deputy Middle East Director at Amnesty International, said in a statement. Wednesday.

Los Angeles is home to most people of Iranian descent outside of Iran. Many live in Tehrangles, a Persian enclave in Westwood that began in the 1960s and flourished after the 1979 revolution. There were 87,000 people of Iranian descent in the city in 2019, according to Census Bureau figures.

Many members of the community are now taking to the streets of Los Angeles in solidarity with the worldwide protests against Amini’s death.

“Like George Floyd and what happened here in the United States, people in Iran are tired of it and they want women to have their rights,” said John Asgari, who lived in Iran as a child but moved to the United States about 15 years ago. Ago. The 28-year-old said it was just the “minimal” to show up at Wednesday’s protest and help “spread the word”.

Ariana Seddik, 22, said Amini’s death was particularly worrying because it could happen to any woman in Iran.

“I could have visited Iran and my hijab had fallen off a bit and I might be killed in Iran,” she said during the protest. “If that happens, America will do something about it because I am an American citizen.”

The Associated Press reported Thursday that in the ongoing unrest between protesters and Iranian security forces, at least nine people have been killed since the demonstrations began over the weekend. The protests coincide with President Ibrahim Raisi’s visit to New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly.

The Guardian reported that Iranians reported widespread internet outages after the country blocked access to Instagram and WhatsApp and shut down the internet completely in parts of Tehran and Kurdistan in an attempt to quell growing dissent.

Raisi tried to shrug off anger over Amini’s death while speaking on Wednesday before the United Nations General Assembly. He referred to the immigrant children held in the United States and the difficulties faced by the Palestinians.

“Human rights belong to everyone, but unfortunately, they are being trampled on by many governments,” Raisi said.

Emily Doyle, 23, whose mother was born in Iran, said she struggles to speak out against Iran because she is concerned about the negative view many Americans have of Iranians. But in the end, she believes it is important to stand up for women’s rights.

“[Iran doesn’t] Doyle said. They took Instagram, and now I think the internet is out in Iran. That’s part of why it’s so important to be here, because we have the internet and we can continue to spread the message of what’s going on.”

Seddik emphasized that Iranians in America should speak out because they have more freedom to protest.

“It just shows that we need to be the one doing it,” she said. We are less likely to be killed than a country like Iran. Women are killed for protesting. If you are in the US and able to protest, you can too. If they don’t have a voice now, we need to be their voice.”

Niasmandi said she understood how she felt “oppressed” and “cursed by your society as a woman” because she attended a girls’ school in Iran and had to adhere to a strict dress code, including being required to wear a headscarf and cut her nails to a certain length.

“I want to be there,” she said of Iran. ‘I want to go out and I want to show my hair, and I want to be the one who burns their headscarves. When I see women without headscarves in front of the police knowing they’re going to be beaten at some point, it’s inspiring and brave. They’ve reached the point of despair where they just have to stand there and say,’ Look at me, I’m without a veil, and I’m here for my human rights.

“At some point, this should have happened, and it’s happening now, and I’m really happy for them,” added Niasmandi. “I’m also really sad because it doesn’t happen for free. They make a lot of sacrifices there.”

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