Sparked by the Sept. 16 death of Mahsa Amini, the civil unrest engulfing Iran has entered its second month. Amini died while in police custody after having been arrested for allegedly violating the country’s strict hijab law, and in the ensuing protests, demonstrators have called for greater freedom for women and an end to theocratic rule.
The demonstrations have garnered support across the Middle East, the U.S., Europe and Asia.
“What distinguishes the present struggle for civil liberties and democracy in Iran is the nature of its driving force,” said M. Rahim Shayegan, UCLA’s Amuzegar Professor of Iranian and the director of the UCLA Pourdavoud Center for the Study of the Iranian World. “It is led by young, educated women of all ethnic and social backgrounds, united in their desire to live in dignity and happiness within an equitable and free society.”
In the weeks ahead, UCLA faculty and administrators are planning several events that will offer opportunities for members of the campus community to examine the events in Iran and discuss a range of issues that have emerged.
Two of the events will take place next week, when the Iranian studies department and the UCLA Center for Middle East Development host webinars exploring the underpinnings, sociopolitical context and possible outcomes of the ongoing protests. Each event will feature a diverse group of scholars based in the U.S. and Europe, and each is free of charge; registration in advance is required.
#WomenLifeFreedom: The Iranian Protest Movement
Host: UCLA Center for Middle East Development
Thursday, Oct. 27
10 a.m. Pacific time
Scholars will discuss how Iranians reached their current state, what distinguishes this round of protests from previous movements, what the protesters are demanding, how they are organizing despite a government shutdown of the internet, and media coverage of the human rights violations occurring in Iran.
Sara Bazoobandi, Marie Curie Research Fellow, Institute for Middle East Studies, German Institute of Global and Area Studies, Hamburg, Germany
Haleh Esfandiari, director emerita and distinguished scholar, Middle East program, Wilson Center, Washington, D.C.
Mahya Ostovar, lecturer, University of Galway, Ireland
Salomé Mohajer, project manager, UCLA Center for Middle East Development
The Roles of Gender & Women in the Current Protests in Iran
Host: UCLA Iranian studies program
Sunday, Oct. 30
11:30 a.m. Pacific time
Note: This conversation will be conducted in Persian
Panelists will explore whether the protests represent a widespread revolutionary movement; how the protests are incorporating ethnic, gender and class diversity; the global role in the movement; and how the events might shape the future of Iran.
Mohammad Ali Kadivar, assistant professor of sociology and international studies, Boston College
Mehrangiz Kar, human rights lawyer, writer, speaker and activist
Zeynab Peyghambarzadeh, lecturer, Iran Academia
Fatemeh Shams, assistant professor, modern Persian literature, University of Pennsylvania
UCLA leadership has communicated with the Bruin community about the ongoing crisis.
In a statement to the Bruin community on Oct. 18, Chancellor Gene Block wrote, “The events that have unfolded in Iran over the past several weeks — including the death of Mahsa Amini and the violent response to ongoing demonstrations — are gravely concerning to me and to many within the UCLA community. ... We mourn for those who have been lost, and express our hopes for the health and safety of those still in harm’s way.”
And on Oct. 4, Anna Spain Bradley, UCLA’s vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion, wrote that the events in Iran “have deeply saddened and affected many Bruins. I share your sadness and remain alarmed at the affront to women’s rights and human rights taking place at this time.”