Words by Izzy Hamer


As protests to support the persecution of women in Iran under the regime of Ebrahim Raisi have gone global, UWA and the broader Perth community have continued to show solidarity and provide avenues for UWA students to tangibly incite action.   


In Iran, protests have currently entered their fourth week since the death of Mahsa Amini on the 16th of September. Twenty-two-year-old Iranian woman Mahsa Amini was arrested in Tehran by the Iranian morality police (the Gasht-e Ershad), under claims of wearing the hijab inappropriately, and died three days after being in a coma due to the violence inflicted by the police. The state has since denied she was beaten by the police, claiming she had a heart attack whilst in custody.

Since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, failure to wear the hijab in accordance with the law can result in women being jailed or fined by the morality police. Following Mahsa’s death, protests erupted in Iran to condemn the regime’s oppression of women, with thousands of Iranian women cutting their hair in protest to stand against officials. The protests have also been underlined by a broader struggle within the state following years of high unemployment, hyperinflation, structural corruption, and silenced calls for reform. Protests have grown to more than eighty cities in Iran, leading to violence, death, and multiple arrests. On September 30th, in Zahedan, now denoted “Bloody Friday”, sixty-six protesters were killed by armed forces, according to Amnesty International, in the most brutal crackdown since the protests’ inception, with worshippers and bystanders being harmed after Friday prayer outside Zahedan’s main mosque. As mass international attention was gained, sixteen-year-old Nika Shakarami was murdered during the protests by police after going missing on the 20th of September. Student voices in secondary and tertiary institutions have been central to the movement, with police being particularly aggressive in their crackdown at universities such as Sharif University in Tehran.  


Despite the amass of protests and outpouring of international and domestic outcry, Iranian officials have continued to suppress and arrest protestors – positioning the demonstrations as being incited by foreign powers, with nine foreign nationals currently under arrest, causing further tensions, particularly between Iran and the West. The US and Canada have added to their existing sanctions against Iran, with multiple EU member states calling for sanctions by the EU. In total, human rights groups, including Iran Human Rights (a Norwegian-based not-for-profit), have estimated a death toll of 185 people, including nineteen children. However, the severance of internet and social media access within the state has contributed to a likely underestimation of this figure. Internationally, protests have been defined by the slogan: “woman, rights, freedom”, or “jin, jiyan, azadi”, originating from the Kurdish resistance.   


In Australia, rallies have occurred across the nation to show support for Iranian women. On the 25th of September, hundreds gathered in Forrest Chase in solidarity to mourn the death of Mahsa Amini and rally in solidarity with the people of Iran. An organiser of the event, Medhi Ghatei, stated he hoped the protestors would help raise attention to support the women in Iran. Another protest occurred in Forrest chase on the 9th of October to continue to raise awareness in the Perth Community.  


Comparatively, in Sydney’s Belmont Park, 3000 gathered, with speeches, including Greens senator Mehreen Faruqi and Australian academic and journalist Dr Saba Vasefi. As stated to SBS News by Kevin Akbari, a protest organiser, “It’s a show of solidarity with the people of Iran. It’s important for them to know that the world is watching, that the world is aware of what is happening, because this is where they get their strength to keep going.” In Melbourne, thousands also gathered in Federation Square and marched to Parliament House on September 29th, with other protests occurring in Hobart and Canberra.   


Support for women in Iran has continued to be shown across the UWA community. On the 5th of October, the UWA Education Action Network at Oak Lawn held a gathering to show solidarity with Iranian protestors and condemn Ebrahim Raisi’s dictatorship, with all proceeds donated towards the Iran Teacher Trade Association.   


At a national level, foreign minister Penny Wong stated on Twitter: “We stand with Iranian women and girls in their struggle for equality”, calling particular attention to the disturbing “reports of attacks on children, and the arrests on school premises”. On the 27th of September, she issued a joint statement with Senator Kathy Gallagher (the Minister for Finance), showing support for the Acting UN High Commissioners for Human Rights’ calls for an independent and impartial body to investigate Mahsa Amini’s death. 



















By Pelican Magazine

Pelican is the second-oldest student publication in Australia and the only independent paper at UWA. If you like having opinions, writing, drawing, and/or free tickets to local events, then Pelican is the place for you! We print six themed issues a year, and run a stream of online content.

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