This past weekend, the City of Irvine became a focal point alongside protests all across Southern California, the nation and the world, where throngs turned out in over 130 cities to amplify their voices in solidarity with the people of Iran.
All across Iran, crowds of enraged women and men are flooding the streets protesting the recent killing of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian woman who was arrested, beaten and killed by Iranian morality police for not properly wearing a headdress, called a hijab. Government officials say she died of a heart attack but few people have accepted that version of events..
Women are now taking off their hijabs, burning them, and even cutting their own hair in support of Amini and anti-government protests.
As of Oct. 2, over 130 people –including children– in Iran have been killed during these demonstrations, according to Norway-based human rights group Iran Human Rights.
The Islamic regime has even gone as far as cutting internet access to its country and arresting at least 28 journalists as of Sept. 29.
Residents from across all of Orange County and the region were no strangers to those demonstrations as women, children, and men –walking with baby strollers, canes, wheelchairs, flags, posters, and a demand for action to support an oppressed country– gathered by the hundreds at Mason Park near the corner of Culver and University Drive in Irvine Saturday morning.
There were also protests at Irvine’s Great Park later that day.
Southern California is one of the largest emigre centers for Iranians outside of Iran, with a vibrant LA business district in Westwood, called “Tehrangeles”.
There’s as many as 32,000 Iranian Americans lived in Orange County in 2019, according to the latest available American Community Survey data, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau.
At Mason Park on Saturday, people were resilient.
Chants in English and Farsi included, “The people united will never be defeated,” “Freedom for Iran,” and ““Say her name, ‘Mahsa Amini’” as the volume to their voices continued to get louder and louder until the number of people on the side of the road overwhelmed the amount of traffic coming in all directions.
Vehicles heading north and south on Culver Drive frequently sounded their car horns in support of the demonstration, with the addition of Irvine Fire Dept. trucks sounding their sirens and commercial vehicles waving Iranian flags with the lion and sun imprinted on the fabric as they drove by.
More and more, the protests have evolved into a referendum of sorts on Iran’s repressive regime.
“Iranian authorities severely restricted freedoms of assembly and expression. Over the past three years, security forces have responded to widespread protests stemming from economic rights issues with excessive and unlawful force, including lethal force, and arrested thousands of protestors,” reads the introduction to the 2022 Human Rights Watch report on Iran.
For more information on Iran’s human rights record, consider reports from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the U.S. State Department annual report on Human Rights, or the U.N. Human Rights report on Iran.
Here’s a look at the people from our region who turned out in Irvine this past weekend to say something about Iran’s human rights record.
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