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Video: Coquitlam's Persian community seeks justice for death of Mahsa Amini

Rain and cold conditions did not keep hundreds of local residents from demanding Canada's solidarity in light of human rights violations across Iran.

Mahsa Amini (Persian: مهسا امینی) was 22 years old when she died in police custody in Iran, allegedly for wearing her hijab too loose.

The September incident, as well as several other recent deaths involving young Iranians in the 40 days since, sparked thousands of protests and demonstrations around the world in calling for human rights justice.

In Coquitlam, the Persian community held a vigil and rally Wednesday night (Oct. 26) in hopes others can show support in the ongoing fight for women's equality.

Those in attendance at Town Centre Park shouted in frequent unison, "Iranians, make your choice. Canada, hear our voice." 

The call is one of action to those living abroad in exile to stand up for their country against the Islamic Republic regime, while encouraging Tri-Cities residents, and Canadians everywhere, to stand in solidarity for their fellow human being.

Other chants included "Freedom for Iran" and "Justice for Mahsa," and while voices were raised, supporters also lit candles by a portrait of Amini in her memory on the TD Community Plaza stage, as well as sang songs.

Who was Mahsa Amini?

Amini has become the face of the current global protest and fight for women's equality and human rights.

She died at the hands of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Guidance Patrol — the morality police — after she was allegedly arrested for not wearing her hijab properly.

While Iranian police have denied any mistreatment, the United Nations (UN) human rights office was called in to investigate.

It found police had expanded their patrols in recent months and verified videos of women being slapped in the face, struck with batons and thrown into police vans for wearing the hijab too loosely.

Amini was Kurdish — an ethnic group of nearly 12 million people hailing from the Kurdistan region, which includes northwestern Iran, southeastern Turkey, northern Iraq and northern Syria.

She was buried in her home city of Saqqez, where protests erupted after her funeral.

Police fired tear gas to disperse demonstrators and arrested dozens.

In Vancouver, weekly protests have taken place at the art gallery calling in Iran to drop the mandatory hijab law, which came into effect in 1981, as well as an end to the regime's brutal treatment of prisoners. 

On Sept. 21, Iranians experienced a near-total internet blackout. The loss of internet access made it more difficult for demonstrators to communicate and arrange protests.

Massive protests have been held around the world since her death to show solidarity with the demonstrators in Iran and to protest the Islamic republic.

- with files from Janis Cleugh, Tri-City News, and Elana Shepert, Vancouver Is Awesome


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