Passionate protests broke the silence in the Student Union Monday evening as roughly thirty demonstrators, many with signs, marched around the first floor.
“Justice for Iran,” they chanted. “Say her name. Mahsa Amini!”
They climbed the stairs and lapped around the Union before gathering outside, underneath the bridge that connects the SU to the Commons.
The protests are part of worldwide demonstrations against the Iranian government following the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian woman. Amini was arrested by Iran’s morality police for incorrectly wearing her hijab, a violation of Iran’s strict fundamentalist laws governing women’s dress, and died in custody.
Amini’s family says that police beat her, leaving her body covered with bruises, according to The Guardian. Police say she died of a heart attack.
Uprisings in response to Amini’s death have been met with violence across Iran. Iranian officials have killed at least 60 protesting citizens, according to CNN. At Sharif University, located in Tehran, the capital, security forces attacked students with a variety of military tactics including gas and firearms.
Demonstrators protested two weekends ago outside of Buffalo City Hall. They repeated many of the same chants on Monday, including “Women, life, freedom,” “Justice for Iran,” and “Down with the dictator.”
Ali Hasanzadeh, a second-year doctoral student studying philosophy, led the march and chants. He said that he and his fellow protestors want the UB community to rally around their push for a revolution in Iran.
“We want everyone to know that Iranians around the world are hoping for a new regime to come, for a revolution to happen,” he said.
Other organizers echoed this sentiment. Nadia Shahram, a UB graduate, attorney and local activist originally from Iran, implored the UB community to support the people of Iran. She condemned the “acts of pure evil” carried out by the Iranian government and the tragedies at Iran’s universities.
“All the presidents of universities around the world should be appalled,” she said.
A few hours before the march, President Satish Tripathi issued a statement of support for the protestors.
“I would like to express our university’s solidarity with UB’s Iranian students and faculty as well as our concern for the safety and liberty of their loved ones in their home country,” he wrote.
Shahram was pleased to hear of UB administrators supporting the cause, and said “it means a lot, especially to Iranian women.”
In addition to protesting, Shahram has reached out to several federal officials. She said that Rep. Brian Higgins has agreed to meet with her and added that she’s working on arranging a meeting with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
Shahram said the key to the movement’s success was convincing the U.S. government to cut ties with Iran. She emphasized that a free Iran would benefit the United States.
“We can help Iranian women by simply not supporting a terrorist government.”
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Ryan Tantalo is the managing editor of The Spectrum. He previously served as senior sports editor. Outside of the newsroom, Ryan spends his time announcing college hockey games, golfing, skiing and reading.