By Robert Bernstein
On September 16, a 22-year-old Iranian woman named Mahsa Amini was arrested in Iran by their “morality police” for allegedly wearing her head scarf (hijab) “incorrectly”. At the time she was in a car with her family, heading into the capital of Tehran.
Within hours she was in a coma and was declared dead within two days. The government of Iran has lied about every aspect of her death. All evidence is that she was murdered for a trivial dress code matter.
I will also note that Mahsa and her family are Kurdish Iranians. Her Kurdish name is Jina Amini or Zhina Amini, but Iran only allows official Iranian names. Hence “Mahsa”.
The outrage in Iran and around the world has been huge and sustained. Previous protests have occurred against the theocratic dictatorship in Iran in 2009, 2017, and 2019. But this looks to be bigger and continuing without end.
Here in Santa Barbara have been ongoing marches and rallies downtown and at UCSB. I caught up with a rally at the corner of State Street and Canon Perdido on Sunday at 2:00PM. They were just about to begin a march down to Haley Street and back.
World Dance for Humanity had a visible presence.
I was in awe of the courage of so many people from Iran to pose for photos, knowing the brutality of the government of Iran against any critics, along with their families.
Here is my short video of about 150 people marching and chanting “Women, Life, Freedom”.
When the march returned to Canon Perdido Street I got a few more photos of the posters describing the lives of some of the hundreds of people murdered by the government of Iran.
These rallies and marches will continue every Sunday afternoon. Ideally, until the theocratic dictators step down and freedom and democracy come to Iran.
I will note that my involvement with Iran began when I was a student in the late 1970s. In the 1950s, the US CIA helped overthrow the democratically elected liberal, secular government of Mohammad Mosaddegh.
The US government and CIA used its usual propaganda to claim he was Communist. But it was really all about the oil. He wanted to nationalize the Iranian oil industry, then controlled by what is now British Petroleum (BP).
The US helped install the Shah of Iran who was widely hated in Iran as a dictator, though he did allow some modernity and progress.
In 1979, the people of Iran rose up to expel the Shah. Unfortunately, the Shah had already destroyed most liberal opposition in Iran. The only remaining opposition power in Iran was fundamentalist Muslim. Led by Ayatolla Ruhollah Khomeini, who had been living in Paris.
President Jimmy Carter listened to Henry Kissinger and David Rockefeller and allowed the Shah into the US. Despite warnings that Americans in Iran would be taken hostage if this happened. Carter went ahead and allowed the Shah into the US and hostages were taken.
The hostages were released simultaneous with Reagan being sworn in as US President in January 1981. Reagan went on to reward the theocratic government of Iran by illegally sending them weapons. This, despite official US policy that the government of Iran was a terrorist government.
Reagan further broke the law by stealing the proceeds from those weapons sales. Illegal action two. And giving that stolen, illegally gained money to terrorists in Central America who were illegally waging war on the people of Nicaragua. Illegal actions three and four.
At least 138 Reagan administration officials were investigated, indicted or convicted. The largest number for any president in American history. Unfortunately, Reagan himself was never held accountable and he was allowed to pardon some of the worst criminals in his administration. An invitation for this pattern to repeat.
After so many decades of horror in Iran, this may finally be the time when freedom and democracy come to Iran.