Key PointsProtesters have gathered across Australia to mark the anniversary of Mahsa Amini’s death in Iran.Amini was detained in Iran for not wearing her hijab correctly and died in custody.Her death sparked widespread protests around the world against Iran’s increasingly autocratic regime.
A year after the
, protesters have taken to the streets in cities across Australia in solidarity and anger.
Thousands of people attended rallies calling for greater freedoms for women in Iran, held in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Hobart, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth on Saturday.
In September 2022, Amini was detained in Tehran by morality police over wearing ‘improper hijab’, and died in custody.
Iran’s coroner later linked her death to a “pre-existing medical condition”, but witnesses claimed she was beaten and her family said she was fit and healthy before her arrest.
Mahsa Amini’s death in custody in Iran sparked the ‘Woman, Life, Freedom’ movement. Source: AAP / Diego Fedele
, with women and young people often at the forefront as protesters in Iran targeted symbols of the Islamic Republic, burning pictures of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and chanting “Death to the Dictator”.
Women, including schoolgirls, took off and burned headscarves, revolting against laws obliging women to cover their hair and wear loose-fitting clothes.
Authorities in Iran have imposed travel bans and jail terms on several public figures, from athletes to actresses. Tehran drew further condemnation for torturing and executing protesters, including family members of the Australian diaspora.
Woman Life Freedom protesters on the steps of the Victorian Parliament. Source: AAP / Diego Fedele
Activists and politicians spoke at rallies across the country on Saturday to mark one year since Amini’s death, and demand greater freedoms for women.
NSW Greens members Mehreen Faruqi and David Shoebridge spoke at the Sydney Rally in Hyde Park, calling for condemnation of Iran’s regime.
The Melbourne rally was attended by Victorian Greens MP Tim Read and academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert. The latter was previously imprisoned for two years in Iran on espionage charges, allegations she has consistently denied.
Kylie Moore-Gilbert, who spent two years in prison in Iran on espionage charges – allegations which she denies. Source: SBS News
“It’s been really shocking and quite affecting for me to watch the events unfolding over Iran for the last 12 months,” Moore-Gilbert told SBS News.
“The brave women and men and children of Iran who are standing up against this horrific regime, who are taking to the streets still, even 12 months later, at great danger and risk to themselves, and are being tortured, are being raped, are being murdered or executed for simply standing up for their rights … these amazing, wonderful, brave people.”
South Australian senator Simon Birmingham joined Amnesty International’s Nader Zoljalali in Adelaide, while Queensland senator Paul Scar joined Greens member Amy McMahon at the Brisbane rally.
Canberra hosted Kathryn Allan, the founder of the Amnesty International Feminist Network, while protesters in Hobart were joined by Tasmanian senator Claire Chandler and state Greens leader Rosalie Woodruff.
“This is what it’s all about, the Woman Life Freedom revolution, to take back our beautiful land of Iran back from the Islamic republic regime,” Ek Taghdir, a protester who attended the Melbourne rally, told SBS News.
“We’re seeing Iranians being killed by an Islamic regime and of course, all for what? Wanting to express their basic rights,” he said.
“This is twofold. We’ve got to remember, Woman Life Freedom is not just an Iranian pursuit. Greater strides may have been made in Western societies, but those strides aren’t immune from being undermined or hijacked.”
Protesters in Federation Square. Source: SBS News
Australian-Iranians defiant in the face of threats
have detailed stories of harassment and violence – including from bikies – over their activism and protests.
But they continue to push for freedom and democracy in Iran in defiance of an increasingly theocratic regime that continues to crack down on women’s rights and freedoms.
The father of prominent regime critic Tina Kordrostami found a photo of his daughter on his front steps marked with a message conveying “shut your daughter up” after earlier protests outside the Canberra embassy.
Sources told the family it was a message from the embassy through bikies.
Kordrostami said she was warned her name was being mentioned in bikie circles in 2022, causing her to go into hiding for two months in fear for her own safety.
Her uncle has also been taken into custody and interrogated in Iran numerous times after she led protests and spoke out in Australia.
“A lot of us activists have been under surveillance by gang members, those working in the Iranian embassy and in general anyone working directly with the Iranian regime,” she said.
“We accept it – if we get stabbed, we get stabbed.”
Another activist, who wants to keep his identity secret, says members of the Comancheros gang physically assaulted him, threatened him and told him to stop his activism.
Iran summons Australian envoy over rights sanctions
Ahead of the anniversary, Australia introduced new sanctions against Iran, demanding Tehran “hold those responsible” for Amini’s death to account.
Those sanctions include the spokesperson for the Law Enforcement Forces, involved in cracking down on women who defy the nation’s veiling laws, and the head of the nation’s cyber police who censored widespread protests.
Two Iran Broadcasting reporters have also been sanctioned, as have a web-hosting service and a satellite channel sponsored by Iranian state media.
Australia’s envoy in Iran was then summoned to Iran’s foreign ministry over the sanctions and “interventionist remarks”.
Foreign Minister Penny Wong on Wednesday said Australia stood in solidarity with the people in Iran and the new sanctions would target those who oppress women and girls.
“While the protests may have subsided, the suffering has not,” she told parliament.
“Women and girls in Iran still face systemic persecution, sexist discrimination continues to be entrenched in Iranian law and in practice.”
Senator Wong said Iran needed to prosecute those responsible for Amini’s death, instead of clinging to claims she died of natural causes.
– With additional reporting by Tys Occhiuzzi.
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