Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in cities across Canada and around the globe on Sept. 16 to mark the one-year anniversary of the Women, Life, Freedom movement in Iran.
In Vancouver, thousands of protesters gathered in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery. Many Iranians arrived from various parts of the Lower Mainland, including the North Shore, home to more than 15,000 people of Iranian descent.
On Saturday protesters marched along Georgia Street, waving flags and displaying signs that called for justice while remembering those who have been arrested and killed since the movement started in Iran.
The movement began following the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested in Tehran by morality police – a dedicated unit that enforces strict dress codes for women – on Sept. 16, 2022. Since the protests began in Iran, there have been at least 537 deaths and 22,000 arrests.
Bahman Doustdar, a North Shore resident and the editor and publisher of Farhang, a biweekly Persian magazine published in Vancouver since 2003, attend the recent rally. He mentioned that individuals participate in these rallies because “they feel it is necessary to participate and show support to the people of Iran in their fight for freedom.”
Doustdar said he believes these rallies can raise awareness among Canadians.
“The Iranian community knows what’s going on in Iran and is concerned about it, but the important thing is to inform Canadians about the situation in Iran so they can be our voice,” he said.
On Sept. 15, Canada imposed a new package of sanctions on Iranian regime officials, including six individuals involved in “gross and systemic violations of human rights.” This group includes members of the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution, an unelected body that created the so-called morality police enforcing the hijab rules. This is the 14th round of sanctions Canada has imposed on Iran in the past 11 months, aimed at 31 entities and 129 people.
Following the Islamic Republic Revolution in 1979, and during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, many people from Iran came to live on the North Shore.
Over the last year there have been several large demonstrations on the North Shore including one in which thousands of people took part in a massive “human chain” stretching from Vancouver to the North Shore in solidarity with Iranian protesters. In the larger Lower Mainland area, about 80,000 to 90,000 people identify as Iranian.
Hamid Jafari is a Vancouver-based freelance journalist who writes about the Iranian community in Canada, art, culture, and social media trends. email@example.com