The vision of the Kamloops Food Policy Council is a food system that is regenerative, sovereign and just. This vision of justice is not possible when widespread serious injustices are continually and blatantly perpetuated. For this reason we want to call attention to the nationwide protest in Iran that has been sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year old girl who was arrested in Tehran on September 13th by Iran’s so-called morality police because she didn’t have a “proper” hijab. After being detained for three days, she died in custody.

This has brought lots of emotions and anger not only from “morality police” but years of mistreatment of women with unjustified restrictions. Since Mahsa Amini’s death, thousands of women and men have been on the streets throughout the country protesting and chanting Woman, Life, Freedom. 

(Image: Students gathering on September 22nd at Thompson River University in solidarity with the protests in Iran. Kamloops, BC)

A song called “Baraye” in Farsi, “Because of” in English, by Shervin Hajipour has gone viral on Instagram in the last three weeks. The lyrics are taken from tweets starting with the word “Baraye” that Iranians have posted online recently about why they are protesting.
Listen to the “Baraye”song  in Farsi by Shervin Hajipour on Spotify
Listen to the “Baraye”song  in Farsi by Shervin Hajipour on Youtube
Listen to the translated and recreated “Baraye” song to English (Because of)

The song is translated as: 

“Because of dancing in the street.
Because we’re scared to kiss our lovers when we meet.
Because of one sister, and for all of them.
Because of changing minds that have gone rotten.
Because of all the shame of having no money.
Because of yearning to live life normally.
Because of a poor child and his lost dreams.
Because of the fight for equality.
Because of this polluted air.
Because of Vali Asr and the trees dying there.
Because of the Pirooz and its extinction.
Because of Innocent Dogs Forbidden.
Because of tears that never end.
Because of longing to repeat those moments.
Because of a smile on all faces.
Because of students and what their future embraces.
Because of the promised paradise.
Because of locked up voices that cannot rise.
Because of all our children.
Because of “because of’s” have no end.
Because of all these empty chants.
Because of all the rubble from homes that collapsed.
Because peace is all that we want.
Because of sunshine after the long nights haunt.
Because of sleeplessness and anxiety.
Because of the man, the country, the rebuilding.
Because of the girl who wished she was a man.
Because of the WOMAN, LIFE, FREEDOM.”

The government has called the protesters “provocateurs” several times. Security forces have attacked people on the streets rigorously with batons and tear gas. They have detained, injured, and killed women, men and even children. Most casualties are not going to hospitals as they fear being arrested by security forces. This has increased the risk of infection or other health issues and even death. The United Nations has condemned violent responses to protests by Iran’s security forces.

Currently, the authorities have blocked all social media platforms and severely restricted internet access in Iran to stop protests and hide crimes from the world. Without proper access to the internet it is harder for Iranians to communicate with people outside of Iran and share protest videos and photos, as well as report on what is happening inside the country. Amnesty International has recently shared about why “Internet shutdowns are a human rights issue”. 

While Iranians are living this heartbreaking tragedy, a ray of hope shines: the great support from people outside of Iran. Since Mahsa Amini’s death, many of Iranians and non-Iranians have amplified the voice of people in Iran demanding freedom for Iran and rights for Iranian women through gatherings in cities across the world and sharing the protests’ news and stories on social media using hashtags #mahsaamini and #مهسا_امینی. On October 1st, the world saw the biggest rally for free Iran in more than 150 cities in the world, in Toronto, 50,000 people joined the rally to support protests in Iran. 

Image: Students gathering on September 22nd at Thompson River University in solidarity with the protests in Iran. Kamloops, BC

Images : October 3rd event in solidarity with the protests in Iran organized by Thompson River University Student Union. Students signed the Amnesty International petition and wrote messages of support for Iranian people. Kamloops , BC

These powerful calls for change have come from years of Iranians being subject to violent government suppression of peaceful protests. While this time the protests have focused on gender equity, since 2017 Iranaians have experienced and protested severe food insecurity and economic issues including massive price hikes for basic food items. In these earlier cases, similar tactics were used including government-led internet shutdowns, violence, threats, and killing of protesters. Protests for Mahsa Amini represents not only gender based liberation but also food security and the access of basic human rights for Iranians. 

We are not free until we are all free. 

 


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