Students, Feminists and Politicians Showing up for Iran

by Lily Mafi — 29November2022

It was on the night of the winter solstice, a night widely celebrated by Iranians as “Yalda” or “Shab-e Chelleh” when Soheil Banejshafie and his fellow Iranian students in Luxembourg launched their first event together as the Iranian Student Association of Luxembourg.

“We had two goals, our first goal was to get together and celebrate this night together and our second goal was to share our culture and history with our non-Iranian guests.”

After a successful and long Yalda night with roughly 120 attendees, Soheil and his friends decided to make their association official, carving their mission to focus on Iran’s culture, art and history.

Fast forward about a year later, Soheil and his friends are busy presenting their activities at the University of Luxembourg’s “Welcome Day”. Soheil tells me, “It was September 16. We got home that night and found out that Ms. Mahsa Amini was killed by the morality police.”

The news of the tragic murder of 22 year old Zhina Mahsa Amini became a catalyst for action for Soheil and the association, “I thought to myself, we’re pushing ourselves here and putting in all this work and this is what’s happening in Iran at the same time. We felt socially responsible to do something about it, whether to condemn or show solidarity.”

Over 100 people, including the Prime Minister of Luxembourg attended a protest and vigil organised by the group for Mahsa on September 29 in Luxembourg city.

“It was a bad time for many of us, we kept checking Instagram and we came to the conclusion that we couldn’t continue to sit, cry and be depressed in the corner of a room. We decided we needed to do something.”

Since the start of the protests following the murder of Zhina Mahsa Amini in Iran, Iranians of all backgrounds living outside the country have tirelessly organised hundreds of demonstrations in every corner of the globe. In the Netherlands alone, demonstrations have been held every week since the protests first swept the streets of Zhina’s hometown of Saqqez.

Emerging from the uprising are countless yet unique collectives and initiatives such as the Jina Collective, “a pro LGBTQIA+, anti-capitalist, anti-fascist, anti-sexist, anti-racist and against any other system of oppression” or the International Solidarity Network for Iranian People, initiated by a group of Iranian-Dutch women including Dutch senate representative Farah Karimi “to urgently call on the European Union and the United Nations to condemn the violence, and to impose sanctions against those in power in Iran.”

Tomorrow, a group by the name of Iranian Scholars for Liberty will be hosting a global campus rally for Iran on Wednesday, November 30th. Thus far, over 135 universities around the world have joined the event, following the collective’s mission to “amplify the voice of the people of Iran through our network in the diaspora.”

Aras, a student from Potsdam University who will be attending the event in Germany says that one of the aims is to mobilize and create awareness amongst non-Iranian students about what’s happening in Iran.

Soheil, who will be joining the event tomorrow shares that despite differences in approaches and angles, “Everyone’s goal is the same, I mean, you could say that our hearts are bleeding and everyone wants to do something.”

Over 80,000 people showed up to Berlin in solidarity with the people of Iran and tomorrow, over 135 universities will unite to support the clear demands of the people of Iran for their rights, for their revolution.

+Zamaneh Media

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‏Zamaneh Media is a Persian language media organization based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. READ MORE: https://en.radiozamaneh.com/about/