OPINION: Protests in Iran warrant international support

Americans can help Iranians in their protests against oppression and human rights violations. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/FLICKR

The alleged murder of a woman by police officers in Iran on Sept. 13 has ignited protests across the country, according to a Sept. 18 article by Iran International.

Although these protests are on the other side of the world, American citizens can and should help by donating and bringing attention to the seriousness of this issue.

Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian woman, was arrested for violating Iran’s strict rules on women wearing a hijab while in public. Witnesses report seeing her being violently beaten in a police van and her family reported that she suffered several serious head injuries. She died on Sept. 16 after falling into a coma, as reported by Iran International. 

Iranian officials insist Amini died of a heart attack, but top Iranian medical official Dr. Hossein Karampour rejected that statement in a letter to the president of the Iranian Medical Council, as reported in a Sept. 20 article by Radio Farda. Karampour said Amini’s injuries show she suffered from head trauma rather than a heart attack.

Since Amini’s death, protests have erupted and been met with deadly force by the Iranian government. Dozens of men, women and children have been killed and hundreds more injured as they rally for a change and an end to an oppressive regime, as reported by Amnesty International.

The U.S. has already spoken out against the actions of the Iranian government and imposed sanctions. On Sept. 22 the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control sent a press release condemning Iran’s morality police and their use of violence against protesters.

The sanctions prohibit Americans or anyone within the U.S. from dealing with members of the morality police or Iranian security leaders. American citizens should also show solidarity and do what they can to help Iranians actually make a change.

One simple way to do this is to donate. There are several charities and organizations based in the U.S. dedicated to helping and protecting Iranians.

The Abdorrahman Boroumand Center and the Center for Human Rights in Iran are two of these organizations. Both have done work shining light on human rights violations in Iran.

Possibly the most important way people can support is to spread news and social media posts from the Iranian people as their government has begun imposing strict internet and media restrictions.

“Social media are the biggest venue for the enemies to further their conspiracies, thus, restrictions will continue as long as the protests continue,” Iranian lawmaker Lotfollah Siahkali said to the press on Sept. 28, as reported by Iran International.

These restrictions are supposedly for “security purposes” but they make it very difficult for Iranian citizens to share the truth about what is happening. This also makes it easier for the government to share only their version of events and silence people who speak out. 

By sharing posts and news from the Iranian people, Americans can help make sure their voices don’t die out.

“I get hundreds of messages from inside Iran every day. And all they’re asking for is solidarity. They’re asking for their voices to be amplified … The least we can do in the West is to show solidarity to the people inside Iran,” human rights activist Nazanin Boniadi said in a Sept. 20 interview with PBS Newshour.

In Tampa Bay, an Iranian woman is encouraging her friends, family and neighbors to speak out in support of Iran. 

“It is about more than Mahsa, now. People are protesting because they are tired of oppression and poverty and this regime. We need people around the world to hear our voice,” Damineh Oveisi said in a Sept. 25 Tampa Bay Times article.

Iranian news outlets like the Tehran Times push the narrative that the police weren’t responsible for Amini’s death, and other nations are exploiting it.

“The U.S. must stop interfering in the affairs of independent countries and mind its own business. It must also stop provoking its allies to fuel secessionist moves in Iran,” the news outlet said in a Sept. 20 article.

While the U.S. is certainly not above criticism, this kind of oppression and abuse of power deserves to be called out. The more attention and awareness that is brought to this issue, the more the Iranian government is under pressure to actually make a change.

By donating and spreading awareness, Americans can stand in solidarity with the people of Iran and help them make a much needed change.