Why You Should Care About Iran
After a loose lock of hair fell into Mahsa Amini’s face, the Iranian morality police detained the young woman for a dress code violation. She would never be released from custody. Officials claim that the healthy twenty-two-year-old woman died from a heart attack and a subsequent coma, but Amini’s family is skeptical. Amini died while at one of Iran’s reeducation centers, which are known for using physical and psychological torture, according to Dr. Sara Hassani of the Providence College Women’s and Gender Studies Department.
With women taking to the street in the form of protests, they risk facing the same abuse that resulted in Amini’s death. Iranians are removing their hijabs and chopping off their hair. Young girls are yelling at school administrators. Even peaceful protest is met with deadly violence from the Iranian regime.
However, serious misconceptions exist about Iranian women. Dr. Hassani notes that the government still allows women to receive an adequate education, with women outpacing men in many higher education fields. Iranian women are not simply housewives, mothers, and daughters. Despite this, the government irrationally regulates their social norms.
Recently, the Iranian government has severely restricted Internet access within the nation in an attempt to suppress protests. Despite this, photographs and videos are still circulating on social media.
Given the complex gender relations, Iran has given women the tools to speak out against the misogynistic prejudices they face. Women across Iran are calling for change, even if they might die for the cause.
These compromises were not without protest from the theocratic parties. There have been attempts to eliminate the few rights Iranian women have left.
Why is this acceptable to the international community?
Unfortunately, foreign intervention within Iranian domestic politics eventually led to the current oppressive Iranian regime. Both the United States and the United Kingdom helped to decrease the Iranian Parliament’s influence within Iran in 1953 when the nations ousted a democratically elected Prime Minister. The new Iranian monarchy created the secret police system within Iran, which has continued through the 1979 Iranian Revolution into modern times.
The United States and other world powers need to adopt new policies that emphasize human rights protection and economic self-sufficiency for all instead of national interests. Furthermore, the international community is in part to blame for the human rights catastrophe in Iran, even if their actions did not have these intended consequences. Now, nations must apply this reasoning to future cases that arise to prevent more attacks on minority groups. Regime change is not an effective American foreign policy initiative. Therefore, the United States must shift its focus towards preserving human rights, promoting economic prosperity, and forming alliances with governments that uphold the will of the people.
Even though women actively participated in the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the outcomes for gender reform were less than ideal. In fact, women were crucial to the movement’s success. Once political groups competed for power, the theocratic and clerical parties emerged dominant. In fact, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is inspired by the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Many of the social restrictions Atwood emphasizes in her novel are like conditions for Iranian women: extreme dress codes, strict policing, and no tolerance for dissent. While Atwood’s novel is not an exact historical account, it does provide a point of reference for Americans.
Potentially the most chilling aspect of Atwood’s novel is that it conceptualizes a dystopian future for the United States that parallels current conditions in Iran. Americans do not even realize the parallels that already exist.
Severe gender discrimination might seem unimaginable in the United States. Dr. Hassani notes, however, that striking similarities exist between the Iranian Guardian Council and the American Supreme Court. Both have the power to veto legislation, which can be used to further oppress the masses. The Guardian Council blocks any reform-based legislation, even if it is highly favored by the Iranian people. The extreme political power combined with an extreme religious agenda contributes to the Guardian Council’s oppression. Americans should look to Iran when considering how personal religious convictions influence the Supreme Court. The outcomes are certainly dangerous.
The circumstances tackle the eternal question regarding the role of government in social issues. Given the spark in protests, Americans need to reconsider the restrictions legislation places upon various identity groups. Discrimination can occur anywhere. Iranian women supported revolutions, but they were neglected in the end. Women can speak out, but it does not mean society will listen.
To avoid another human rights crisis, everyone must stay informed about the situation and listen when any minority group speaks up for their rights. Everyone has a responsibility to remain open-minded in the fight for unalienable rights.
Read a news article or watch a video. Iranian women are risking their lives for freedom. If one values the liberties granted by the United States government, one should support Iranian women’s struggle for freedom. Standing in solidarity is not a major inconvenience considering the deadly situation. When another video from Iran appears in your feed, stop scrolling and take a moment to support Iranian women.
Bursting the PC Bubble: Hong Kong Protests Erupt Into Violence
by Nicole Silverio ’22
On Saturday, Sept. 15, several protestors were injured in yet another violent protest in Hong Kong between the police force and the citizens. The protests have caused major political upheaval in the past six months.
Thousands marched from Causeway Bay to government offices in Admiralty, striving to peacefully protest the government until they respond to their pro-democracy demands.
Protestors demand that the government withdraw the Extradition Bill, commission an inquiry into police brutality, put a stop to classifying the protestors as “rioters,” provide amnesty for arrested protestors, and the privilege to directly elect leaders in both the Legislative Council and Chief Executive which has been denied by Hong Kong leaders and the Chinese government.
Although they are supposed to be peaceful protests, they have not remained that way. In the most recent protest, radical protestors began throwing bricks and petrol bombs at police, causing the police to retaliate with tear gas, water cannons, and jets of blue dye with the intent to mark the protesters so police could eventually arrest them.
Throughout the night, protesters set fires and vandalized subways, leading to several arrests. According to CNN reporters, one incident left a man in the Tim Hau neighborhood “dazed and bleeding on the floor.”
According to the South China Morning Post, one viral video showed a mob of young men beating a man to the point of unconsciousness.
These riots and protests began in Hong Kong in March 2019 to oppose the Extradition Bill. This bill would allow Hong Kong to extradite a person to mainland China or other countires, including Taiwan. This means that someone accused of committing a crime in another nation would have to be handed over to where the crime was committed.
Being an independent state from the Chinese government, many citizens of Hong Kong believe this is a violation of their independence and civil rights which threatens their democracy.
Protestor Mandy, 26, spoke about the riots, saying, “We need to keep coming out to tell the government to respond to our five demands, otherwise it will think we accept the withdrawal of the Extradition Bill.”
Another protestor named Jackie, who attended with her mother said, “Our government hasn’t replied to any of our demands…we are in a corner and we can’t do anything apart from coming out to the street every single weekend.”
Police increased security checks and reduced the use of public transportation. Public transportation areas have been a frequent destination for pro-democracy demonstrators, which has increased police activity in these areas.
One witness named Lai, 31, saw at least twenty police officers at the train station when he returned from the protests. Some of them stormed into the carriage, and, according to him, “Everyone started to scream ‘they are coming, they’re crazy.’ They kept moving and hitting everyone in the car. I started running. I saw police using their batons to keep hitting the same person on the head, even though he was kneeling down in the corner.”
Police commented on this situation, stating that they came to the station after protestors damaged a customer service center and ticket machines and assaulted people.
According to CNN, Junius Ho, a pro-government lawmaker, calls on citizens of Hong Kong who are loyal to the government to “get together and clean Hong Kong.” He even went as far as praising pro-government citizens for attacking protestors in Yuen Long.
Although Hong Kong is a part of the People’s Republic, meaning it belongs to China, they have their own currency, political and legal system which results in them considering themselves “one country, two systems,”guaranteeing that citizens of Hong Kong can have certain freedoms that citizens in mainland China do not have.
The government in Beijing is eager to end the rioting, but protestors are not willing to back down.
Protestor Simon Chang said, “If we don’t stand up now, it’s going to be too late.” Another protestor who remained anonymous said, “Even if they arrest more people, that won’t stop us. They keep arresting people, making us more angry. If the movement stretches to 100 days, 200 days or even 1,000 days and we still don’t get what we want, we will continue to come out.”
Protests are expected to continue through Oct. 1, which will mark the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic.