Thousands Rally in Berlin, Elsewhere in Support of Iranian Women

Thousands of Iranians were among an estimated 80,000 people who joined in a rally Saturday in Berlin, the largest of several protests in cities around the world showing solidarity with women-led protests in Iran.

Iranians traveled to Berlin for the protests and were in other demonstrations in Sweden, Italy, France, Switzerland and other European cities, photos show. Protests were also reported in London, Toronto, Washington and Los Angeles.

Music played, including the song “For Freedom,” which has become a symbol of the nationwide protests of Iranians. And various groups chanted together “Death to the Islamic Republic.”

“Today, thousands of people are showing their solidarity with courageous women and demonstrators in Iran,” tweeted Germany’s Green Party minister for family affairs, Lisa Paus. “We are by your side,” she noted. 

At a rally in New Zealand, Iranians held Iran’s lion and sun flag and chanted the slogan “women of freedom.”

In Brisbane, Australia, Iranians held a demonstration despite the rain.

At the Berlin rally, some marchers brandished slogans such as “Women, Life, Freedom” and some waved Kurdish flags.

“From Zahedan to Tehran, I sacrifice my life for Iran,” human rights activist Fariba Balouch said after giving a speech at the Berlin gathering, referring to Iranian cities swept up in the protests. The crowd responded with “Death to Khamenei,” referring to the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Hamed Esmaeilion, the spokesman of the PS752 Flight Families Association, spoke at the rally.

“The Islamic Republic is not equal to Iran,” he said, and he called on Western countries for a targeted boycott of the authorities of the Islamic Republic.

“Respect the most progressive revolution in the history of the Middle East and don’t forget that we, the people of Iran, do not forget the collaborators with the criminals of the Islamic Republic.”

The crowd completed his sentence with the phrase “We do not forgive.”

Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 was shot down shortly after takeoff from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport on January 8, 2020, by missiles fired by Iranian anti-aircraft weapons. All its 176 passengers and crew members died.

Anti-government activists said the Berlin march was the largest ever demonstration against the Islamic Republic by Iranians abroad.

“I feel very good, because we are here to [say] ‘We are with you, with all Iranian people.’ I am Mahsa Amini’s voice,” said a protester who gave her name as Maru.

Several of the participants told Voice of America that they came out to the rally in solidarity with the protesters who are “losing their lives on the streets of Iran” and to support the “revolution that is now in Iran.”

At the same time, Iranians held a rally in London’s Trafalgar Square, waving flags and chanting support for protesters in Iran. They also sang the song “For Freedom,” which is one of the symbols of the ongoing nationwide protests in Iran, on a placard.

On the National Mall in Washington, thousands of women and men, wearing the green, white and red colors of the Iranian flag, chanted: “Be scared. Be scared. We are one in this.”

As they marched to the White House, some shouted, “Say her name! Mahsa!”

In Los Angeles, home to the biggest population of Iranians outside of Iran, protesters formed a slow-moving procession along a closed downtown street.

They called for the fall of Iran’s government and waved hundreds of Iranian flags that turned the horizon into an undulating wave of red, white and green.

“We want freedom,” they thundered in unison.

Shooka Scharm, an attorney who was born in the U.S. after her parents fled the Iranian revolution, was wearing a T-shirt with the slogan “Women, Life, Freedom” in English and Farsi. In Iran “women are like a second-class citizen and they are sick of it,” Scharm said.

Iran has seen six weeks of growing women-led protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini. She was arrested in mid-September by Iran’s morality police and died in their custody three days later. Amini, 22, was arrested for allegedly breaching the country’s strict dress code for women.

In Iran Saturday, protests were reported in Tehran, where protesters chanted “Death to the dictator” around Tehran’s bazaar, among several cities, and shopkeepers and factory workers went on strike as citizens continue to react angrily to Amini’s death.

Protests also were reported in Karaj, a suburb of Tehran, and Mashhad.

In Mashhad, Iran’s second-most populous city, protesters reportedly chanted, “Don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid, we are all together” as drivers honked their horns in support.

The protests are the biggest seen in the Islamic republic for years, harking back to 2019 rallies sparked by rocketing fuel prices.

The published images from the cities of Sanandaj, Saqqez and Marivan in Kurdistan province, as well as Bukan in the West Azerbaijan province, depict the general strike of workers.

Young women have led the charge, removing their headscarves, chanting anti-government slogans and confronting the security forces.

The Oslo-based, Iran Human Rights group says at least 122 people — including some children — have died in the unrest.

Some information for this report was provided by The Associated Press, Reuters, and Agence France-Presse.

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