‘Women! Life! Freedom!’: Protesters create human chain to protest Iran

By Zoë Takaki, Staff Reporter

Cities across the world showed their support for Iranian citizens by creating human chains in protest of the country’s regime.

“Today we called for a global human chain around the world,” said Niloofar Tehrani, an activist with the group Chicago for Iran. “I think more than 200 cities today, Iranian communities in more than 200 cities, are coming out today and making a human chain in their own city just to make sure that people around the world know what is happening in Iran and support the revolution.”

Tehrani said she and the other organizers at the rally Saturday, Oct. 29, are all a part of the Instagram account @Chicago4Iran and have been organizing rallies every Saturday at Buckingham Fountain since Sept. 17 after hearing the news of 22-year-old Iranian woman Mahsa Amini’s death in Iran the day prior.

Amini died Sept. 16 while in the custody of the Guidance Patrol, a religious morality police squad within Iran’s law enforcement, three days after they arrested her for the way she wore her headscarf. The focal task of this police force is to enforce the Islamic dress laws; the government standard for headscarfs and hijabs is strictly policed. Amini’s death has since sparked protests in Iran and all over the world.

“More than 200 people [in Iran] are killed in the past 40 days, shot by our own police,” Tehrani said. On Oct. 10, the Human Rights Activist News Agency, known as HRANA, reported the identification of 200 of the people killed in Iran during protests.

Many of the protesters are calling for human rights, criticizing the Iranian government.

Golnaz, a protester decorated with red, greed and white face paint, explained her critique of the regime.

“The fact that the government is doing the role of God right now in Iran is a big problem because it doesn’t say ‘you have to cover up’ in our religion, it does not say ‘you have to cover up’ in the Quran,” Golnaz said. “It just says you have to be modest. And the fact that just because you can’t show your hair, that they’re going to kill people.”

Tehrani and her fellow organizers are calling for Mayor Lori Lightfoot to stand with the revolution in Iran by lighting up Chicago buildings with the colors of the Iranian flag — red, green and white.

“We have reached out to them [Chicago city government] in 50 different ways to change the lights of the buildings in the city to support Iran’s movement, Iran’s revolution,” Tehrani said. “But we’re not hearing anything … and actually we hear something and all we hear is, ‘No, sorry we can’t do that.’”

Chicago4Iran is also calling for Congresswoman Lauren Underwood to take action.

“We want Lauren Underwood to push for the United Nations [to investigate a mechanism] to score the crimes that are against the humanity that are committed by the Islamic regime of Iran,” Tehrani said.

Some protesters were calling for the U.S. to cut ties with Iran.

“We want the United States as a whole, the government, to stop all of their diplomatic relationship with Iran, because every penny that goes from United States to Iran’s regime right now will be used to kill and arrest people in Iran,” Tehrani said. “You cannot give them one more penny, you cannot go ahead with the deal because whatever you give them they are gonna use it to shoot my sister.”

As protesters chanted “Women! Life! Freedom!” in English and Kurdish down Lake Shore Drive, they shared how Chicago residents can support them.

“We need everybody to speak up, silence is poison right now,” Golnaz said.

Sara Mouayed, another protester, said it is also important to speak up because it is hard for people living amongst the regime to spread their message due to the internet being difficult to access.

“Because they cut off the internet in Iran a lot, I think we have to be their voice somehow. They can’t show us everything, they don’t have news describing what’s actually happening in Iran,” Mouayed said. “My cousin in northern Iran gets access to one hour of internet a day, and she texts my mom only once a day saying, ‘okay,’ that’s the only text we received.”

Mouayed and other protesters are calling on Chicagoans to speak out against the regime.

“If you want basic human rights, you should be speaking up,” Mouayed said. “This is the foundation of everything.”