From Iran With Outrage: An Iranian Student’s Perspective on Current Events

By Asal Tavakkoli

Illustration of a Woman, in the Colors of the Iranian Flag, with Her Hair Free. Symbolizing Freedom and Hope@Sonya_Illustration on Instagram
The Iranian Revolution of 1979 marked the dusk of women’s – and human – rights in Iran. Prior to the Revolution, Iranian women played a very active role in society. An example is Shirin Ebadi, one of Iran’s first female judges and Nobel Prize winners who after the revolution was stripped of her title, as women were regarded as less competent than men and deemed unsuitable to serve as judges by the new leaders. Since the Revolution, not only have Iranian women been stripped of their rights, but also subjected to countless human rights violations. Of course, the Iranian government has found many ways to justify these violations by perpetuating its dissociative interpretation of religious jurisprudence as well as its ungrounded constitution that broke from pre-1979 Islamic sunna.                 
After the 1979 Revolution, wearing the hijab – the veil or scarf –  became obligatory for women in Iran, regardless of their religion, ethnicity, or personal beliefs. The regime dictates that before going out of their home Iranian women are to check that their hair, arms, and legs are properly covered. Failing to comply with these imposed rules can – and does – yield severe consequences. The gashte-ershad (Morality Police) – a gathering of insecure men and women with a taste for organized crime– is in charge of monitoring and enforcement of hijab compliance. The punishments for showing even a strand of your hair start with an arrest. Then comes a prison sentence, a fine, or for the truly unlucky, being made to disappear without anyone’s knowledge of what happened to you. Data has shown that the Morality Police prosecutes more than 16,000 women per year for improper veiling.
Image of Roshana Ahmadi, a Girl Who Protested Against the Mandatory Hijab, and Was Later Killed for Her Protesting
Image of Roshana Ahmadi, a Girl Who Protested Against the Mandatory Hijab, and Was Later Killed for Her Protesting@MHDSEMIR on Twitter
On September 16th, 2022, Iranian people witnessed the cruel murder of 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian Mahsa (Jina) Amini by the hands of gashte-ershad who, on September 13th, arrested Mahsa in Tehran for improper hijab. She was tortured over the course of days to the point where she needed immediate hospitalization. Then she was pronounced dead after a few hours.
Protesters in Istanbul Protesting While Holding an Image of Mahsa Amini
Protesters in Istanbul Protesting While Holding an Image of Mahsa AminiOzan Kose/AFP/Getty Images
Since then, nationwide and international protests and demonstrations have erupted with the shared theme and chant slogan of “Woman, Life, Freedom.” Unfortunately, in an attempt to control the Iranian people’s access to outside resources – the news – and to silence their voice, the government did what they always do best: cowardly shut down and nationalize the internet.
The protestors are still standing strong and keeping their ground, but as expected the barbarism of the government knows no limit. They are murdering, executing, and torturing innocent civilians of all ages even though they are protesting peacefully. As of the weekend of November 12th, according to APNews, the total number of protesters murdered exceeded 300 people.
On October 2nd, the government brutally attacked unarmed students at the prestigious Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, with tear gas, bullets, and paintballs. They surrounded the university with armed forces, closing all entrances to trap students inside, and used paintballs to mark students who were present to make sure that they were easy to identify. Many students and faculty who tried to reason with the government's forces were brutally attacked and arrested. The students were besieged, their lives at the hands of monstrous predators with moral compasses as minute as a …. “I fail to find anything sickening enough to describe them.” There have been similar attacks at other educational institutes all around Iran injuring many physically and mentally,  leaving marks on their lives that can never be undone.
To add on, on October 15th there was a government-planned attack on Evin Prison in Tehran where thousands of political and rights activists were detained. A series of attacks, such as an intentional fire, a couple of explosions, and gun battles took place inside the prison. Video footage shows that the attack was conducted by the government’s (نیروهای ویژه پاسداران ولایت) “Guardians of the Islamic Jurist Special Forces,” even though the prison was under the supervision of the government. Though the government has blamed the attack on the protestors - referring to them as the “agitators” - it is widely believed in Iran that the government ordered the attack to get rid of prisoners in addition to, most likely, evidence of torture and inhumane living conditions in the prison.                 
In light of all these recent events, many people living both in and outside of Iran are mourning. We are all grieving over the loss of our families, the violence committed against our people, and the disrupted communication with our loved ones. The government’s fiendish treatment of its own people is truly disquieting.
A Woman in Istanbul Cutting Her Hair to Protest the Conditions Women Face in Iran
A Woman in Istanbul Cutting Her Hair to Protest the Conditions Women Face in IranYasin Akgul/AFP
Iranian people have to put themselves through danger every day to be heard. Their rights have been ignored, and they have been oppressed for years. Nevertheless, they have not stopped fighting, no matter the risks. The religious government of Iran always tries to silence people who stand out by imposing heavy-handed tyranny under the guise of religion. However, fierce Iranians are never silenced. They have a voice and regardless of the obstacles, they are not afraid to use it. Their right of self-expression, their freedom, and their basic human rights have been taken away from them but they are still standing strong.
Image of a Young Girl Protesting in the Streets of Iran
Image of a Young Girl Protesting in the Streets of Iran @golfarahani on Instagram
Everyone should be able to be in charge of their lives and have access to their human rights without fearing for their lives. This revolution isn’t just about Hijab, it’s a cry for equity, a normal life, freedom, and a better economy. It’s a fight for all the innocent lives that have been taken away under the name of god and religion, it’s for the tears of a mother, a father, a sister, and a brother…..
Thank you to Ms. Khan and Mr. Carter for their tremendous support.