Hundreds of Reno’s more than 2,000 Iranian Americans marched on Saturday to protest the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Starting at the University of Nevada, Reno, protestors marched through downtown Reno chanting in protest against oppressive government actions.
Masha Amini was a central figure in the demonstrations. Amini was arrested by Iran’s morality police and allegedly was murdered while in the custody of the Iranian government.
Amini, 22, was arrested for not wearing a hijab as required by the government in Iran.
Her death has sparked worldwide protests. More than 200 have died in the protests, one of the Reno protest organizers said.
Iran’s mandatory dress code for women has been in place since 1979 and requires women to wear a hijab in government buildings and workplaces. Several years later a penalty was attached to enforce the rule – whipping up to 74 lashes – although most women were sentenced to prison.
Despite societal changes and a more liberal view of attire and hijab wearing, women in Iran are still detained by morality police, brought to detention centers and “re-educated” about hijab use. They are also prohibited from participating in many parts of public life.
Women aren’t the only victims of Iran’s Islamic-led government. According to Amnesty International, people who are members of ethnic and religious minorities, and LBGTQ+ people face consistent discrimination and violence. Reproductive rights, access to the internet and religious freedoms are also infringed.
“Judicial punishments of floggings, amputations and blinding were imposed. The death penalty was used widely, including as a weapon of repression. Executions were carried out after unfair trials,” Amnesty International notes on its website.
Reno protestors called for an end to Iran’s oppressive actions.
“Woman, life, freedom!” the demonstrators chanted as they marched.
They were asking for support from Reno-area residents for what they say is a fundamental human rights crisis. They were also calling for the end of what they said was Iran’s oppressive, religious regime.
“It’s an ongoing thing. Every day people are dealing with this,” said Tayeveh Goli, an Iranian-American and doctoral student at UNR. “There is no freedom of speech. No freedom of expression. Women can’t go to sporting events. Women can’t sing….We are trying to break that silence.”
Some women protesting in Iran have removed their hijabs in public or cut their hair in protest. Amnesty International has reported that during some of these protests government security forces have taken to beating demonstrators and shooting live ammunition into crowds.
“Anytime in the past that a protest occurred, the Islamic regime beat, imprisoned or killed their own citizens instead of hearing out their demands,” said Sogol Mirzaeenejade, one of the protest organizers, in a prepared statement.
A group with as many as 300 gathered at the Joe Crowley Student Union on the UNR campus. From there, they marched downtown and ended up on the south side of the downtown Washoe County library.
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Bob Conrad is publisher, editor and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011. He is also a part time instructor at UNR.