Iranians living in Canada and their supporters gathered in downtown Ottawa on Saturday to protest Iran’s conservative Islamic theocracy, a year after the death of Mahsa Amini.
The 22-year-old died in the custody of Iran’s morality police last September, who were holding her on accusations that she had violated that country’s hijab law.
Iranian authorities said Amini suffered a heart attack but was unharmed. Her family has questioned this, leading to public protests that spread across the country and then around the world.
The resulting “Mahsa movement” questioned the legitimacy of Iran’s ruling clerics, who have been in power since 1979.
In response, Iranian security forces launched a deadly crackdown on protesters.
‘We do not forget’
On Saturday, more than 200 people gathered outside the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa to keep the anti-violence movement alive in what organizers described as a peaceful and accessible environment.
Among them was Rahil Golipoor, an Iranian who has lived in Canada for more than a decade.
“We are all here to tell my people in Iran that we are still with you,” Golipoor said.
“We do not forget the women of Iran and Afghanistan and the women of that area, all in that condition. That is not what women deserve.”
Golipoor also had a message for Western governments.
“Please, please, do not support the government of Iran. Do not make agreements with them,” he said.
On the eve of the anniversary, US President Joe Biden announced that his government will impose more sanctions on Iranian individuals and companies, targeting “some of Iran’s most egregious human rights violators.”
Canada also responded. Six senior officials of the regime are prohibited from entering Canada or have interests in the country.
Another participant in Saturday’s protest, Saeideh Shabani, had a red streak on her right cheek and a fake bruise over her eye.
He said it represented violence against protesters in Iran.
“My presence here is not only to support the movement we started a year ago to have a free Iran,” he said.
“But I also feel sorry for the families of those [who] have sacrificed their lives or been injured and [want] to keep his memory and his movement alive.”
According to Amnesty International, similar protests were planned in other Canadian cities, including Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.