Kent State Community Rallies for Solidarity and Human Rights for Iranians
The mist and foggy weather conditions on Thursday did not stop Iranian first-year students Ronika Marandi and Goli Kavoosi from leading a group of Kent State community members in a solidarity rally demanding human rights in Iran.
“No Justice, No Peace!” Marandi yelled into a megaphone, and a chorus of students, faculty, staff and community members repeated her with fervor. “Stand With the Women of Iran!”
Marandi and Kavoosi organized the rally in partnership with Kent State’s Women's Center and the School of Peace and Conflict Studies to raise awareness about the atrocities that are happening in Iran.
“They don’t have the freedom to protest,” said Marandi, a marketing major who has been in the U.S. since 2015. Her mother’s side of the family is in the U.S. and her father's side is in Iran. “They don’t have freedom of speech. They can’t do what I’m doing right now. They’ve shut down the internet and the media. Tell one other person that you know about this situation.”
Weeks of protests erupted in Iran after the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died while in police custody after being arrested by the Iranian morality police in September for allegedly wearing her headscarf too loosely, according to news reports.
The Iranian police say Amini died of heart failure, but her family and others accuse police of murdering her. Since the protests ignited, hundreds of people have been killed, injured and jailed by Iranian police.
Protesters at Kent State held small bouquets of yellow roses, which they distributed to passersby, in memory of the people who have been killed by police in Iran. They held signs that said “KSU Stands with the Women of Iran” and “Stop U.S. Diplomacy with Iran.” And they shared information about a change.org petition asking G7 leaders to expel Iranian diplomats and how to request that U.S. politicians stop dealings with Iran.
Kasoovi said the least she can do is help raise awareness and explain what is going on in Iran, where her parents and siblings are protesting every day. She said the cousin of a friend, who was the mother of three children, was killed recently.
But despite that, Kasoovi is not afraid for her family because she said, “they have nothing to lose.”
“I’m Iranian, but I would care if this happened to people in other parts of the world,” said Kavoosi, who recently helped lead a discussion at Kent State on the unrest in Iran. “It’s important to be the voice of the voiceless.”
May 4 Task Force member Sophia Swengel joined the group because it’s important to show solidarity to injustice around the world. “We, at Kent State, have unique and personal perspective when it comes to people’s rights being taken away,” said Swengel, a sophomore emerging media and technology major.
Nat, an engineering major who did not want to use his last name, said his peace and conflict studies instructor suggested students participate in the rally or take part in another activity.
Nat was inspired to participate in the rally because he learned in the course that “the more people who show up brings more attention to the situation. But it’s also the right thing to do.”