Iranian-Americans are holding demonstrations across the United States this weekend in solidarity with ongoing protests in Iran over the death of a 22-year-old woman who collapsed in morality police custody.
“Join us in solidarity and be the voice of the Iranian people who are being brutally repressed for fighting for basic human rights while their internet access is cut off.” read a flyer for an event in Boston on Saturday. Similar events are held in California, Rhode Island and Florida, among others.
Protests erupted in the Islamic Republic earlier this week following the death of Mahsa Amini last Friday. Days before her death, she was arrested by the morality police in Tehran and taken to a “re-education” center for advice on clothing. Iran’s Vice Police is a special unit that enforces strict dress codes for women, such as the mandatory headscarf.
During detention, Amini fell into a coma and died shortly thereafter. Police have described Amini’s death as an “unfortunate incident” and denied that she was physically injured in custody, semi-official Fars News said on Monday. Iranian officials said Amini died after suffering a “heart attack” following her arrest, but her family said she had no pre-existing heart condition.
Protesters demanding justice and accountability for Amini’s death have since taken to the streets of Tehran and beyond. Videos show crowds cheering when women cut their hair and burn their headscarves, despite laws requiring women to cover their heads in public. The chants range from “Women, Life, Freedom” to “Death to the Dictator,” a nod to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.
The government has tried to contain dissent with violence and an internet blackout. Dozens of protesters were reportedly killed in clashes with security forces.
CNN cannot independently verify the death toll — no one outside the Iranian government can confirm an exact figure — and estimates have been mixed by opposition groups, international human rights organizations, and local journalists.
Amnesty International said on Friday at least 30 people, including four children, had died; According to state media of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, 35 people have died.
Iranian-Americans are holding rallies, vigils and other events in support of the protests. Many are calling for an end to police crackdowns and more human rights for Iranian women, including an end to the mandatory dress code.
Earlier this week, protests took place at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in Washington and at the University of California at Berkeley, among others. Demonstrations will continue throughout the weekend, including in San Francisco where supporters will try form a human chain Sunday over the Golden Gate Bridge.
Majid Sadeghpour, an Iranian-American living in Virginia, is one of the organizers of a rally in Washington Saturday. The protests, Sadeghpour told CNN, symbolize solidarity with those in Iran who are “ready to overthrow this regime, no matter the cost.”
“The people of Iran are in the process of another revolution,” Sadeghpour said. “The regime has been in decline for years and is now literally falling. We call on the international community to sever ties with this regime and instead support the Iranian people and their organized resistance.”
Sepideh Sanie, a protest organizer in Chicago, said she felt compelled to amplify Iranian voices, especially since the internet blackout prevented so many from being heard.
“As people who are not living under the oppression of the Islamic regime, we have an obligation to raise our voice and be the voice of our people,” Sanie said. “The government has restricted access to the internet and social media platforms to silence the voice of Iranians, and this is where we, those with freedom and access to diverse platforms, come in.”
Solidarity events are also taking place in other countries including Turkey, Lebanon, UK, Italy, Spain and Germany.
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