Representatives from the UBC Persian Club and Afghan Student Association led a march on campus to protest the state violence faced by civilians in Iran and Afghanistan on October 17.
The march is part of ongoing global action in response to the death of Mahsa Amini, as well as state-sponsored violence committed against Sharif University students and thousands of others. This was the fourth gathering on campus related to events happening in Iran.
The protests began on September 16, after Amini was detained after incorrectly wearing her hijab while visiting Iran with family. Authorities claimed she passed away due to a heart attack, but witnesses reports show that she was beaten by the police and fell into a coma.
Monday’s march was part of Middle East Matters’ Global Student Day of Action to show solidarity with students in Iran and Afghanistan who are “putting their lives on the line fighting for their freedom.”
“What's happening in Iran is a microcosm of the entire … world. We saw the same thing happen with Roe v. Wade … with the honour killings [in Egypt and Jordan]. I think that the principle is that women are being defined by how chastised or virtuous they are,” said fourth-year political science student Yahya Abdul Ghani.
“I grew up with my mom and my sister, who were very strong people. [Within] my family … I could notice where I had privileges that they didn’t, and it would make them really uncomfortable.”
The protest began outside the UBC bookstore with students, faculty and other community members gathered in solidarity. Music played as pamphlets and signs were passed around, sparking dialogue about human and specifically women's rights.
Later, Khatira Daryabi, a psychology and master's of management student, spoke on behalf of the Afghan Student Association.
“[We are here] to build a brighter tomorrow for our countries … in which Afghan and Iranian women are free and liberated … where student protests are not met with bullets, tear gas and bomb explosions,” she said.
She also spoke about the violent attacks and recent fire at Evin Prison. Two days ago, four prisoners were killed and sixty-one were injured during the fire. Officials claim that a dispute between prisoners led to the fire, but witnesses said prisoners did not set it.
It is unclear if the fire at Evin Prison is related to the national protests in Iran.
“[We are fighting for] a tomorrow where there’s no place for poets, political activists, workers, teachers and environmentalists in prison,” said Daryabi.
Attendees then marched to the Engineering Cairn along Main Mall — which had posters and signs expressing solidarity with those in Iran and Afghanistan taped to it.
Abdul Ghani urged students to talk about what’s happening in Iran on social media.
“A message to UBC students: a lot of the time we think that posting on social media is redundant, but I think that in this case, [with] the lack of internet access in Iran, it’s okay to post on your story. Whatever you can do helps,” he said.
Abdul Ghani contributed to The Ubyssey in 2021. He was not involved in the writing or editing of this piece.
This piece was updated at 12:39 p.m. on October 20. A previous version misspelled the Afghan Student Association's name as the Afghani Student Association. The headline was also updated to reflect this change. The Ubyssey regrets this error.