Iranian-Canadian faculty shares her reflections on human rights in Iran

Oct. 4, 2022

A reflection from professor Dr. Fariba Molki, a member of the Georgian College and Iranian-Canadian communities. Shared with her permission.

One of the biggest movements against women’s discrimination is happening today in Iran.

The past two weeks have been a hard time for all Iranians. I am very proud of people in Iran and how brave they are, especially women. But I am sad and angry too. Since the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, it has come to light that another woman was hospitalized after being arrested by morality police in Tehran because of a loose scarf and died after two days. The journalist who reported her death has been arrested.

These incidents brought back so many painful memories. Growing up in Iran, I was forced to wear the Hijab in school since I was six years old. The dress code was strict: no colorful uniform, scarf or even socks. As a girl, it was my responsibility to be invisible because if someone sexually assaulted me it would be my fault. At university, subject choices were limited as some majors were not suitable for women. Before marriage, I couldn’t get a passport or leave the country without my dad’s notarized permission. After marriage, the permission needed to come from my husband. I was not able to go to a hotel without being accompanied by a male member of the family. Once, I was stopped by police on a trip with my husband and his uncle and asked to show proof of relationship. Who carries their marriage certificate with them? So, they separated us and interrogated us to prove that we were not friends; as if to be in a car with a male friend was a crime. 

Dr. Fariba Molki, Georgian College professor and Iranian-Canadian, at a protest in Richmond Hill on Oct. 1.

Still, I had hope. I thought better days will come. But things only got worse. In 2009, for two weeks before the election Iran was a democratic country, as is the case right before an election when restrictions are lifted. People were excited and wanted change. But the night before the voting, text messages were deactivated. The day after the election, they announced Ahmadi Nejad as president. People started to protest which resulted in their arrest. There was no mercy; the terrible things they did to the prisoners was unbelievable. Most believed to have been tortured to death.

That was when I lost hope and decided to immigrate. I was not alone; there were many Iranians who were leaving their homeland because it was occupied by Mullahs. If we wanted prosperity we had to go abroad.

I went to the U.K. for my PhD. After a few years, I went back to Iran for a short visit. I received a call from an unknown number. It was from the Intelligence Service who asked me to report to them. Two men interrogated me for two hours and repeatedly told me that they should have brought me here sooner and would bring my husband too. I was asked to write the names of all the people I had met in England and many other details Finally, they said I could leave but I could be called back any time. And I should hope that there wasn’t anything that I hadn’t told them because they would find out and I would be sorry. I cannot express my feelings during those two hours, how frightened I was. So, when I think about the people they are arresting now, I am terrified.

I was lucky and had the chance to come to Canada, but I am frightened for my family, friends, and all the innocent people who are hostages of the Islamic Republic. I feel miserable when I see the news from Iran.  Those protesters are not violent; they are just demanding basic human rights. Now, the government has shut down the internet and limited phone services to suppress the voice of Iranians. It is not the first time they are doing this, but I am more anxious this time as I know if they suppress these protests, there will be a blood bath. They are already killing people in the street, and to end the protests they will not hesitate to make mass arrests and order executions. People who survive will not have a life anymore.

Remember George Floyd. Mahsa Amini is Iran’s George Floyd. But why should you care, why should you stand by us? Because a peaceful Iran means peaceful Middle East; it means fewer weapons and financial support to Russia to invade Ukraine; less sponsorship of terrorism. Today, in the streets of Iran, people are being slaughtered for fighting for their human rights. Let the government know you care about Iran because you care about peace in the world.

My hope is that this time the world will support the Iranian people to find the freedom they deserve.

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