WASHINGTON (AP) — Singing crowds marched through the streets of Berlin, Washington DC and Los Angeles on Saturday in a show of international support for protesters facing a violent government crackdown in Iransparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of this country’s vice squad.
On the US National Mall, thousands of women and men of all ages – dressed in green, white and red, the colors of the Iranian flag – shouted in rhythm. “Be afraid. Be afraid. We are one,” protesters shouted before marching toward the White House. “Say his name! Mahsha! »
The protests, organized by local organizers from across the United States, drew Iranians from across the Washington DC area, with some traveling from Toronto to join the crowds.
In Los Angeles, home to the largest population of Iranians outside of Iran, a crowd of protesters formed a slow procession along the blocks of a closed downtown street. They sang for the downfall of the Iranian government and waved hundreds of Iranian flags that turned the horizon into an undulating wave of red, white and green.
“We want freedom,” they thundered.
Shooka Scharm, a lawyer born in the United States after her parents fled the Iranian revolution, wore a t-shirt with the slogan “Women, Life, Freedom” in English and Farsi. In Iran, “women are like second-class citizens and they’re fed up,” Scharm said.
Iran’s nationwide anti-government protest movement initially focused on the mandatory hijab covering for women after Amiri’s September 16 death. On Saturday in Tehran, other anti-government demonstrations took place in several universities.
Iranian security forces have broken up rallies there with live ammunition and tear gas, killing more than 200 people, including teenage girls, rights groups say.
The Biden administration has said it condemns the brutality and repression against Iranian citizens and will seek ways to impose more sanctions against the Iranian government if the violence continues.
Between chants, DC protesters broke into song, singing traditional Persian music about life and freedom — all written after the 1979 revolution that brought religious fundamentalists to power in Iran. They sang one in particular in unison – “Baraye”, meaning because of, which became the unofficial anthem of protests in Iran. The artist of this song, Shervin Hajipour, was arrested shortly after posting the song on his Instagram at the end of September. It has racked up over 40 million views.
“Because of women, life, freedom,” chanted the demonstrators, echoing a popular protest song: “Azadi” – Freedom.
The movement in Iran is rooted in the same issues as in the United States and around the world, said protester Samin Aayanifard, 28, who left Iran three years ago. “It’s forced hijab in Iran and here in America, after 50 years women’s bodies are under control,” said Aayanifard, who drove from East Lansing, Michigan to join the DC march. She referred to rollbacks in abortion laws in the United States. “It’s about controlling women’s bodies.”
Several weeks of solidarity rallies on Saturday in the US capital drew growing crowds.
In Berlin, a crowd estimated by German police at tens of thousands proved to be in solidarity with the women and activists who have been leading the movement for several weeks in Iran. The protests in the German capital, organized by the collective Woman(asterisk) Life Freedom, began at the Victory Column in Berlin’s Tiergarten park and continued as a march through central Berlin.
Some protesters said they had come from elsewhere in Germany and other European countries to show their support.
“It’s so important for us to be here, to be the voice of the Iranian people, who are being killed in the streets,” said Shakib Lolo, who is originally from Iran but lives in the Netherlands. “And it’s no longer a demonstration, it’s a revolution, in Iran. And the people of the world must see it.
Blood brought from Los Angeles.
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