By Andrea Bunjamin
On 6 October, a strong crowd of protestors gathered in Keith Burrows Theatre on campus in solidarity with Iranian Women in response to the murder of Mahsa Amini.
Mahsa Amini was a 22-year-old Kurdish woman who was arrested and fatally beaten by Iran’s Morality Police for not wearing a hijab properly in accordance with government standards.
Her death was the final straw which resulted in an unprecedented and widespread demand to end a governmental regime that has deprived Iranian women of their basic human rights.
During the gathering, several Iranian Women bravely spoke out about their own personal experiences of oppression. Naghmah, a university student who formerly studied in Iran, spoke in front of the crowd about her experience being confronted by the Morality Police for not wearing a proper hijab when she started studying. Naghmeh’s excitement over her courses and society activities were dampened by the fear she and her fellow peers shared.
“The only thing I was thinking about was which gate of the Uni I should get into so the Morality Police don’t report me. And this was every single day,” she said. In her third year, she eventually received a letter from her university’s disciplinary department regarding several incidents and was at risk of expulsion.
Her experience is one of many stories that Iranian women go through that serve as a reminder that Amini’s tragedy isn’t rare, and neither is the movement for life and freedom.
This mobilising wave is the result of a young people’s movement that has culminated over the past 40 years.
Dr Asal Bidarmaghz, Senior Lecturer in Civil and Environmental Engineering, re-emphasized to the crowd that around 40% of Iran’s population is under 25 years of age and the percentage of women in higher education is 60%.
Thus far, the inspiring revitalisation of hope in mass demonstrations has been met with violent resistance by the Iranian militia. University students are highly targeted and over hundreds have died for standing up against the dictating ideologies in their society.
In her speech, Dr Elnaz Irranezhad had expressed the necessity to sustain this movement into a revolution for permanent change. She said, “Are we going to just chant? And just gather here and move on? No! We must not give up this time.”
Irannezhad called for non-Iranian supporters in Australia to call on local MPs, politicians, and government to stop negotiating with the oppressive regime, so that there is a stronger stance that exceeds verbal condemnation of the human rights violations being done to Iranians.
The protestors also voiced the need to move away from ‘Death Chants’ and to focus on ones that promote ‘peace’ instead. This proposition was created to ensure a more inclusive and open space for others who would like to join the movement and to sustain hope among supporters.