PUBLISHING NOTE: Subjects asked for their surnames to be left out of the article.
A crowd of roughly a hundred people gathered across from Kingston City Hall on Saturday afternoon.
The crowd joined a series of rallies around the world to add their voices to the global chorus supporting the people of Iran’s fight against an oppressive regime and its’ violent response to ongoing protests.
Saturday’s rally became the third major demonstration held in the city this year in solidarity with the Iranian people, as protests erupted in September after 22 year old Mahsa Amini was killed while in the custody of Iran’s Morality Police over the crime of “immodest clothing”.
Much of the crowd on Saturday was made up of members of Kingston’s Iranian community, but a wider array of the community adding their voices in support of Iranians would be warmly welcomed.
One of Saturdays speakers, Raheleh, said the movement is largely rooted in feminism and it would be great to see more support at these events from locals who are passionate about women’s rights everywhere.
She added, however, that just about everyone in Iran is being mistreated by the authoritarian regime, and while still acknowledging its roots in feminism with the slogan of “Woman, Life, Freedom” the movement has grown to encapsulate the nation as a whole.
“Women of Iran, they have been oppressed for long,” Raheleh said.
“They don’t even have the freedom to choose what they wear, basic human rights, they can’t sing… it’s been going on for the past 43 years but I can’t tell you this is only a women uprising. The whole country has been oppressed for so long.”
Cities across Canada and the world held rallies on Saturday in solidarity with the Iranian struggle, trying to amplify the voices of those involved in protests that have been largely cut off from the outside world.
Since the protests began, Iran has enacted an internet blackout on its citizens, with many asserting it is because it will make it easier for them to both commit atrocities and lie to the public.
During the course of the blackours, over 16,000 protestors are believed to have been arrested and are facing heavy punishments from the Iranian government including execution.
Supporters are worried that a bloody script from three years ago may be in danger of repeating itself, when a sudden, dramatic rise in the price of fuel led to protests and countrywide internet blackouts which lasted six days to slow the spread of information.
Marked as “The Silent Massacre of 2019”, Raheleh said the Iranian government killed at least 1500 protestors, 23 of which were children.
Now roughly three years since those protests began, supporters are concerned the Iranian government is preparing for mass bloodshed yet again.
Raheleh says these protestors need the support of solidarity movements around the world.
“This is the same time three years ago, they’re doing the same thing but the blackout has been going on for more than two months now,” Raheleh said.
“We have to continue this to be the voice of people in Iran.”
Already since protests began, over 340 protestors have been killed including 42 children.
Protestors want to see the western world stand up beside them and realize how significant the ongoing fight is in Iran and the rest of the middle East.
Another speaker at Saturday’s event, a Queen’s student named Kamyar, said people need to realize that the atrocities perpetuated by the Iranian regime have spread outside of Iran’s borders, and could continue to if the fight by Iran’s people falls short.
“We hope that the world comes to the full realization that the Islamic Republic isn’t just a menace to the Iranians and its many ethnicities, but to Afghans, Syrians, Iraqis, and today the Ukrainians, who are being killed by the weapons and drones that Iran supplies to Putin,” Kamyar said.
“We need to make the world realize that the Islamic Republic is a threat to all humanity and that the people inside Iran are the ones paying the ultimate price to get rid of it… But that they need your continued support and solidarity in this fight.”
Saturday’s rally was organized by Iranian Students Association of Queen’s University.