Statement of Solidarity with Zhina (Mahsa) Amini

Zhina (Mahsa) Amini (a 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman) was murdered on Friday, September 16, after being arrested and beaten into a coma, by the Islamic Republic in Iran’s, so-called “Morality Police”, officers responsible for enforcing the country’s hijab and dress code mandate.

Amini was forcefully arrested last Tuesday evening for allegedly breaking hijab rules by not covering her hair “properly”, during a family visit in Tehran. A few hours later, she was transferred to the hospital with severe bruising, head trauma, and concussion symptoms. The police of Islamic regime in Iran have denied that she was beaten, but her family said “…officers beat her in the police van after her arrest…”, and that her “…face was swollen and her legs were bruised” when they saw her in the hospital. Amini was in a coma for three days before passing away on Friday. Her body was moved from the hospital for more “investigation” on the cause of death, without her family’s consent, and it was later announced that Amini died due to a previous health failure. However, her family and Iranian people disagree because of violence evidence on Amini’s body and no transparent investigation report.

Amini was not the first woman to be murdered by the Islamic Regime in Iran for not complying with the state’s radical law requiring women to cover their hair and body. Iranian authorities have a long history of violently and inhumanely enforcing compulsory veiling laws. In 2005, the government established a special police force commonly termed the “Morality Police”, which has continuously harassed, intimidated, and assaulted women who do not comply with the dress code mandate. Many have been arrested, mentally and physically battered, and murdered for challenging the theocratic regime’s hijab rules.

The Iranian Women’s Rights Movement has a long history of fighting for primary rights and freedom for women and queer people. The movement launched the Change for Equality: One Million Signatures for the Repeal of Discriminatory Laws campaign in 2006 with the goal of achieving equal rights for Iranian women by reforming theocratic laws that discriminate against them. In response to the news of Amini’s murder by the police, Iranian activists and women’s rights advocates have since launched protests in over 13 cities, where many Iranian women have burned their headscarves in an act of solidarity with Amini’s family. The Islamic regime has responded by deploying militarized riot police to quell the protests, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of people. The regime has also blocked the internet access to suppress the protesters. 

CUPE 3903 and YUGSA strongly condemn the horrific actions of the Islamic Regime in Iran and support the rights and freedoms of women around the world, including their bodily sovereignty and choice of apparel. Freedom of expression and belief lies at the heart of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), which states that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”. As activists, advocates, and scholars, we stand firmly in solidarity with Amini’s family and other Iranians, working diligently to prevent violence against innocent people, particularly Iranian women. 

 As Iranian Republic’s president, Ebrahim Raisi attends the United Nations General Assembly in New York this week, we want our constituents and the world to be aware of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s violation against Iranian women, which is a denial of inalienable human rights. We question whether a government that has no respect for women’s fundamental rights should serve on the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women. And we implore the Canadian government and the U.N. to act by mobilizing diplomatic measures for enforcing the international laws and declarations designed to protect women’s human rights globally.