Ultra Vires


“Woman, Life, Freedom”

Iranian solidarity action takes over Nathan Phillips Square on October 2, 2022

A crowd of protesters at the Iranian solidarity action on October 2, 2022. Credit: Yukiko Kobayashi Lui

On October 2, 2022, activists from the Iranian diaspora and beyond gathered in Nathan Phillips Square to show solidarity with ongoing protests in the Islamic Republic of Iran following the death of Mahsa (Jina) Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, shortly after Iranian morality police released her from custody on September 16.

Suspicions around the use of torture and the circumstances of Amini’s death ignited a sustained protest movement across cities and university campuses in Iran, which some observers believe is the largest of its kind in many years. Women protestors in Iran have refused to wear the hijab and cut their hair to protest the government’s morality police. The protests have grown to encompass calls not only for the repeal of mandatory veiling laws in Iran but also for women’s rights more broadly, queer rights, and an end to Sharia law in the country.

Activists with the Feminists 4 Jina campaign planned a slate of solidarity actions in cities around the world, including the action held on October 2 in Toronto. Featuring speeches from local Kurdish activists, as well as Black and queer activists, workers, and abolitionists, the action drew a crowd of a hundred protestors. In between chants of the Kurdish independence movement slogan “Jin, Jiyan, Azadi” (“Woman, Life, Freedom”) and “Say Her Name,” the diverse range of speakers addressed the assembled crowd.

Revolutionary feminist activists and refugees from Iran gave speeches explaining the context behind the protests and shared statements from protestors in Iran. Abolitionist speakers connected the Iranian protest movement to movements in North America for an end to police brutality and mass incarceration, including of political prisoners. Queer activists from Iran traced the history of feminist activism in the country and the essential role queer and LGBTQ2S+ activists have played in the development of feminist activism in Iran. A representative of the Naujawan Support Network (NSN), a Greater Toronto Area-based group organizing international workers and students, recalled the importance of international solidarity for all movements, including the movement for justice for Amini and the Indian farmers’ protests in 2020.

A counter-protester disrupted the action, but legal observers resolved the situation quickly. Following the speeches, the action merged with a nearby protest calling for an end to the Hazara genocide in Afghanistan.

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