UHS Clubs Raise Awareness About Human Rights Crisis in Iran


Sarah Chen

UHS She’s the First Club Presenting on Women’s Rights in Iran

Sarah Chen, Staff Writer

On Nov. 18, the Persian Culture Club hosted a presentation during lunch at the Crossroads to spread awareness of the human rights crisis in Iran. To further their cause, She’s the First and the Persian Culture Club held a joint club meeting about the ongoing issues in Iran on Nov. 29.

After taking power in 1979, the Islamic Republic’s clergy governed Iran according to strict religious principles. Women are forced by law to wear hijabs and cover their bodies. It is illegal for women to sell property, enter stadiums, hold certain jobs, ride a bike or dance and sing in public. Husbands and fathers control a woman’s ability to leave the country, get married, get a divorce and have custody of her children.

“What the west doesn’t understand is that this is more than just the compulsory hijab, but it is about women’s rights and human rights,” senior and Persian Culture Club President Melanie Tabatabai said. “Women are considered half of their male counterparts, not even whole people.”

On Sep. 16, Mahsa Jina Amini, a 22-year-old woman who was visiting her brother in Tehran, was detained by the Islamic Republic’s Morality Police for improperly wearing her head scarf. She was taken to a facility where she was supposed to learn the Islamic Republic’s dress code but was beaten to death instead.

“The reason why this case has touched so many is that [Amini] was an ordinary woman who dressed like everyone else,” Tabatabai said. “When I visited Iran, I dressed in the same way [Amini] did when she was detained, and it could have as easily been me, you or someone you know.”

Since Amini’s death, over 500 Iranians have been killed by the Islamic Republic protesting and over 19,000 have been arrested according to Human Rights Activists in Iran. The Islamic Republic continues to use tear gas, shoot and beat their people to death.

“The crisis is a threat to feminism and human rights itself,” senior and Persian Culture Club Secretary Ali Alleyasin said. “Seeing that Iranian women are dying, being tortured, being sexually assaulted or being arrested just because of their basic rights is sorrowful.”

On Nov. 24, the United Nations passed an investigation to look at human rights violations in Iran.

“I hope that local protests become a strong global contribution that will eventually force the western countries to take serious action beyond the status quo,” sophomore and Persian Culture Club Historian Alexis Fazeli said.

Southern California is home to the highest Iranian population outside of Iran. To spread awareness about the Iranian crisis in the UHS community, the Persian Culture Club and She’s the First held a combined meeting on Nov. 29.

“UHS clubs need to spread awareness of women’s rights because, as the next generation, we need to take a stand,” sophomore and She’s the First Treasurer Visha Nachiappan said. “The crisis in Iran is important to everyone, including women and Iranian Americans, because this crisis sets an example for all of us to fight against injustice and corruption happening.”

Both clubs hope UHS students will spread the word about the crisis in Iran.

“Follow Iranian activists, follow the news, hear what your Persian friends are saying to you and talk to your friends about it,” senior and She’s the First President Grace Wang said. “Keep bringing attention to the issue and don’t let Iran’s activists die in the darkness.”

While Iranian Americans worry about the safety of their family members and friends in Iran, they hope that their cause continues to grow.

“What we can do is unite and amplify the voices of the people of Iran,” Tabatabai said. “It is a difficult time for all but we will not stop until the regime is changed and we as Iranians achieve the call for ‘Woman, Life, Freedom’.”