Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Letter: Support Iranian students in the wake of protests overseas

Reach out to your representatives, spread the word on social media and check in with Iranian students
Chelsey Powell / Daily Collegian (2013).

Editor’s note: This letter was written by a group of Iranian graduate students at the University of Massachusetts. The authors’ names have been withheld in an effort to protect their safety and privacy.

You may have heard of Iran, a country previously known for the nuclear deal and the Mullahs. But these days, this country is the scene of a war between good and evil, freedom and political-religious oppression and liberation and fanaticism. The world has a front-row seat to the uprising of oppressed people in Iran, rooted in feminism and human rights. Today, Iranians are protesting to get back their most basic human rights. People are fighting for freedom of speech, freedom of love and freedom of religion.

These protests began in response to the arrest and brutal murder of Mahsa (Jina) Amini, a 22-year-old woman, by the “morality” police in Tehran on Sept. 16, 2022. She was arrested for showing part of her hair while wearing a headscarf covering most of her hair. In Iran, it is illegal for women to show their hair, and they are required to cover all of it while out in public.

The Iranian regime responded to these protests with unimaginable brutality. The Iran Human Rights Organization, based in Norway, reported that 201 people have been killed in the latest round of protests, including 23 minors. 16-year-olds Nika Shakarami  and Sarina Esmailzadeh are among the teenagers beaten to death by security forces. These brave young women lost their lives in the streets for burning their headscarves and protesting peacefully for fundamental human rights. In addition, more than 90 of our fellow citizens have been killed by security forces in Zahedan. The regime has also targeted Sharif University of Technology students —a high school in the Ardabil Province— and even many students, journalists and human rights activists in Evin prison.

It should be no surprise that the regime has also limited internet access to the people of Iran. The internet has been shut or slowed down to purposefully try and prevent people from congregating, protesting and sharing videos and pictures of the horror they are enduring.

In the past few weeks, the life of Iranian students in the University of Massachusetts community has been crippled with constant sorrow, stress and anger by the news coming out of our home. Some Iranian members of our community have shared their experiences.

“I barely can sleep these days, and when I do, I have horrible nightmares. I wake up every morning with anxiety to check on my family and friends in Iran to see if they are still alive,” one computer science doctoral student said.

In Iran, a friend of a UMass student has been arrested for more than 15 days, and no one knows his current situation.

“He is not the only victim of this regime’s crime, but also many other talented students have been arrested and murdered by the government these days,” the student said. “Our friends deserve to study at prestigious high-level universities instead of getting tortured by the Islamic Republic of Iran. Please be their voice!”

“My college roommate and best friend has been arrested and beaten in police custody,” another graduate student said. “He has internal bleeding around his ear. He cannot walk properly and is recovering at home right now.”

While being mournful for these horrific events, we are proud of being Iranians — for being from a country with the first women’s revolution in the Middle East, for having the bravest members of Generation Z leading our revolution and for our brave people trying their best and endangering their lives while chantingWoman, Life, Freedom.”

You, the American and international community of UMass Amherst, can support Iranians in their fight for freedom and justice by taking action.

  • Contact your congressperson and senator. Express your disagreement with the Islamic Republic regime, and ask your representative to condemn its actions.
  • Use your voice on social media. Your voice can help us! Follow and use #mahsa_amini on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok. Be the voice of the voiceless Iranians who do not have access to the internet and raise awareness.
  • Engage in conversations with your fellow Iranian colleagues and peers. Ask us how we are doing and how you can help. We welcome the opportunity to talk with you and discuss how you can help us support the people of Iran.

May the struggle and blood of our people, along with your voice, result in their liberation and prosperity.

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    Gwen NabadOct 25, 2022 at 7:00 pm

    Please come to a rally in Northampton on October 27, 2022, 5:00pm to 6: 30 [, to stand in solidarity with the Women of Iran! Speakers and candlelight vigil. This will be held in front of city hall. Mayor Gina Sciarra will be speaking and representatives will be in the vicinity!!