SIUE Iranian students feel powerless to help as thousands of people have been killed or arrested in Iran protesting the death of Mercer Amini.
Maede Shahin is President and Founder of SIUE’s Iranian Students Association. Shahin said that other international students’ associations were the impetus for establishing the association.
“I saw that some international students… have their own community. This helped a lot for them to support each other and have this network. Iranian students also You should have it,” said Shahin.
Shahin said the support is available to SIUE’s Iranian students, who are thousands of miles away from their families. Since the death of Martha His Amini in September 2022, protests have erupted across Iran, killing hundreds and arresting thousands. The Morality Police, the Iranian organization responsible for enforcing the country’s hijab requirements, has been widely accused of much of the violence surrounding these protests.
“Mahsa Amini was a 22-year-old girl … who could not survive the moral police,” Shahin said. “There is violence against women in Iran because the government doesn’t wear what they want them to wear.”
Amini was arrested for wearing an inappropriate hijab, according to the Iranian government. The protests surrounding Mahsa Amini’s death are not the first in Iran, but are notable for their longevity and brutality.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran has been there for about 40 years,” Shahin said. “For years we have been under that violence. It was like a sudden reactivation … throughout society … all these 40 years we have been free, our freedom. , have asked for our normal lives for us humans.We have rights, but all we got in response from them was a gunshot.”
Sarina Fatahizadeh, a chemistry student at SIUE, said the government had become more brutal to the public as the protests continued.
“The situation got worse and worse, they started protesting and people stopped going to work. Shops were closed and the government… started killing people in the streets,” said Fatahizadeh. “Women, young people, children… It’s like war in some cities. You can see guns and machines being used for war, not for protest.”
Fatahizadeh also said many of the arrests and deaths occurred among the younger generation of the Iranian population. Many are no older than university students.
“Then they arrested a lot of people,” Fatahizadeh said. “Most of them… are young people between the ages of 22 and 30 and now they are being sentenced to death. Yesterday or two days ago a boy was killed by them. They are condemning him to death. bottom.”
Sophia Wilson is an assistant professor of political science and has led a series of webinars to combat misinformation and propaganda about the Russian war in Ukraine. Wilson, who is Ukrainian, said she wanted to conduct a webinar in a similar fashion to educate people about the current crisis in Iran, but she has so far said she will hold the webinar. I am struggling with
Mr Wilson said Iran was becoming a very important actor on the world stage, especially in its “desperate” alliance with Russia.
“It is 2022, and 2023 is guaranteed to be very decisive in changing the history of the world. A lot will change after 2023,” Wilson said. . “I don’t know how many people realize it, but the world has changed this year and will continue to change. In just one year, it will be completely different than it was last year. [the] A global system… the lives of tens of millions of people are directly affected. ”
Fatahizadeh wishes he could do more to help protesters from the United States, but feels powerless to do so.
“If I were there, I would take to the streets and protest with other people, but I know my family.” [and] what they feel I know they worry about others like any other family,” Fatahizadeh said. “I read something on Instagram [about] A teenager who wanted to go to a protest, he wrote a note to his mother saying, “I’m sorry you may not see me grow old,” and he died . Something like that. There is nothing good about being here or being there. ”
Shahin said the influx of news from Iran, broadcast on television and told directly by family members, has caused a lot of stress and anxiety among Iranian students.
“Martha is not only the girl who was beaten and killed in Iran, she is also a sister. She is one of us. It could be me, it could be my mother, my sister, my loved ones.” said Shahin. “This was really painful for all of us. Even now people are protesting… So I hope that all the Iranian students who follow the news, all the things that we got from Iran and are still telling us. You can imagine how difficult it is to listen to and watch videos, being so far away from schoolwork and family. [It] Seeing support and solidarity from schools is very important to us, but honestly we are not. ”
Shahin said he had tried to hold himself accountable to show solidarity with the Iranian people at SIUE.
“Iran’s government is very powerful and [and] As a student myself, I don’t think I have the power to do anything,” Shahin said. “[I want to] Show solidarity and make more and more people aware of what is happening in Iran in hopes of drawing international attention to what is happening in Iran … so other people are aware that this I know it’s not the government they want. ”
Awareness of global events is especially important for US voters, who directly influence events that can occur on the other side of the globe, Wilson said.
“This college is not that big,” Wilson said. “I think SIUE should hire more people to study the country, so they could do more to keep people informed. Awareness of all kinds is very important as it is a major driving force and US foreign policy affects the fate of people around the world.
Wilson said Iran’s anti-state movement is likely to be one of the defining moments of 2023, especially for the Iranian people and government.
“Not all anti-state movements are the same, but anti-state movements are gaining momentum in Iran. It won’t be quick because we share a determination to continue repressing society,” Wilson said. That willingness to use … is a recipe for unfolding a very difficult situation.The next few months, 2023, will be very difficult for the people of Iran.”
Shahin said her efforts to work with others on campus to spread awareness about the Iranian protests have been met with difficulty.
“Iranian students [the] SIUE family, did you really need this solidarity or something needed to be heard [the] School,” said Shahin. “Several students have tried to email the Chancellor asking him to show some perspective or solidarity, but as you can see, it yielded no results. I have been to some associations myself and they say, ‘You can do that, you can do this. Yes, I am a student from Iran. We have our own program, we’ve been to Washington, D.C. and we’ve done our own things, but nothing special happened here at SIUE.”
Shahin suggested starting by offering specific counseling to those affected by the crisis in Iran.
“The recent Iranian slogan is [is] “Women, life, freedom,” Shahin said. “Women have been sexually discriminated against for all these 40 years. This discrimination is not only against women, but also other people with different ideas and identities than the Islamic Republic regime go through all these hardships. I’ve been.”
Fatahizadeh wants to spread awareness not only among Iranian students, but also the entire campus population.
“I want people who are interested in news and politics to [better] Understand exactly what is happening in Iran. This is not only a matter of women’s rights, but also of human rights.Far from what is happening in Iran [worse] than [the] The death of a young woman,” Fatahizadeh said. “It’s been going on for over 40 years in my country. I don’t know what the problem is… I want people to know it.It’s like war – it’s worse than war – because no one cares about us. ”