THUNDER BAY – The death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini has sent shockwaves around the world, including Thunder Bay.
On Saturday a group of about 35 Iranians living in the city came together at Marina Park, joining in solidarity with the women of their homeland and protesters under siege in the streets of Tehran and other cities in Iran.
More than 75 people have died in Iran protesting Amini’s death, which occurred while she was under detainment by Iran’s morality police in mid-September. She’d been accused of not wearing a hijab while travelling, which goes against Iranian laws requiring women to cover themselves in public.
More than 1,200 protesters have been arrested in the Middle Eastern nation, which is enforcing laws enacted 43 years ago during the Islamic revolution.
According to a recent CBC article, women who do not comply, regardless of their faith, face imprisonment, fines and physical abuse. According to reports, Amini was beaten into a coma and later died.
Mohammad Ghadiri was among the crowd gathered at Prince Arthur’s Landing, holding a sign reading Woman Life Freedom.
After the killings started, Ghadiri said he began to worry about his own family still living in Iran.
“I always think about maybe the next person will be my sister or my mother. I’m so, so sad and angry about this issue,” Ghadiri said.
He’s hopeful the protests will awaken the eyes of the world to the oppressive nature of the Iranian regime, fuelled by religion under president Ebrahim Raisi and supreme leader Ali Khamenei.
“My friends and I, are doing this protest because of our people. We want the rules changed and we hope the government realizes its mistakes and maybe changes rules, especially those for women. The government in recent years hasn’t done any positive actions. Iranian people think it’s time for revolution.”
Another woman, holding a photocopied picture of Ameni, with her name emblazoned underneath, said she thinks it’s the biggest revolution in her homeland for feminism in history. It’s led to the internet being cut off in the country for the past week.
She’s worried about her family back home.
“We don’t know whether they’re OK or not,” said the woman, who asked not to be identified in case she ever visits Iran again.
“So we need the support of the world. We need people, especially on social media, to put #mahsaamini or put stories on Instagram or post something about Mahsa or something like that.”
A newcomer to Canada, who has been in Thunder Bay for just a couple of months, the woman said the difference between the two nations when it comes to the treatment of women is massive.
“A lot of Iranians immigrate to Canada because of the lack of freedom in Iran. As a woman, you don’t have even the choice to wear what you want. So this is a very basic human right that I can talk about here. When you don’t have the choice to choose what you want to wear, what kind of country, or regime, actually, is that?
“It’s the brutal and oppressive regime of Iran.”