WASHINGTON (AP) — Berlin, Washington DC and Los Angeles on Saturday as a show of international support for demonstrators facing a violent government crackdown sparked by the death of 22-year-old Masa Amini in Iran chanting crowds marched through the streets of Detention of the country’s moral police.
Thousands of women and men of all ages shouted to the rhythm on the US National Mall wearing the green, white and red colors of the Iranian flag. “Fear me. Fear me. We’re in this,” protesters yelled before marching to the White House. “Say her name! Masa!”
The demonstrations, put together by grassroots organizers across the United States, drew Iranians from across the Washington, D.C. area, with some descending from Toronto to join the crowd.
In Los Angeles, home to the largest Iranian population outside Iran, large numbers of protesters formed a slow procession along a block of downtown streets that were closed. They cried for the fall of the Iranian government and waved hundreds of Iranian flags that turned the horizon into rolling waves of red, white and green.
“We want freedom,” they thundered.
Born in the United States after her parents fled the Iranian revolution, Shouka Sharm, a lawyer, wore a T-shirt with the slogan “Women, Life, Freedom” in English and Farsi. In Iran, “a woman is like a second-class citizen and she’s sick of it,” Shaam said.
Iran’s nationwide anti-government protests first focused on the country’s mandatory hijab covering women after Amiri’s death on September 16. In Tehran on Saturday, further anti-government protests were held at several universities.
Iranian security forces used live ammunition and tear gas to break up a rally in the country and killed more than 200 people, including a teenage girl, according to human rights groups.
The Biden administration has condemned the atrocities and oppression of Iranian civilians and said it would seek ways to impose further sanctions against the Iranian government if the violence continues.
Between chants, DC protesters broke into the song, singing traditional Persian music about life and freedom. They were all written after religious fundamentalists came to power in Iran after the 1979 revolution. They especially sang in unison – meaning ‘Balayeh’, as it has become the unofficial national anthem of the Iranian protests. The song’s artist, Shervin Hajipour, was arrested shortly after posting the song on his Instagram in late September. It has been viewed over 40 million times.
“For women, life and liberty” protesters chanted the popular protest chant “Azadi” — Liberty.
The movement in Iran is rooted in the same issues as in the United States and around the world, said Samin Aryanifad, 28, a protester who left Iran three years ago. Ayanifad, who drove from East Lansing, Michigan, to join the march in Washington, D.C., said, “In Iran the hijab was forced, here in America he’s been 50 years old and the female body is being controlled.” She referred to the withdrawal of abortion laws in the United States. “It’s about controlling a woman’s body.”
Weeks of solidarity rallies in the US capital on Saturday drew ever-larger crowds.
In Berlin, crowds estimated by German police in the tens of thousands were found showing solidarity with the women and activists who have led the movement in Iran over the past few weeks. Organized by the Women (Asterisk) Life Freedom Collective, protests in the German capital began at the Victory Column in Berlin’s Tiergarten park and continued as a march through central Berlin.
Some demonstrators there said they came from Germany and other European countries to show their support.
“It is very important that we are here and be the voice of the Iranian people who are being killed in the streets,” said Shakib Lolo, who is from Iran and lives in the Netherlands. “And this is no longer a protest, but a revolution in Iran. And the world must see it.”
Blood was reported from Los Angeles.
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