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Chanting “women, life, freedom” and lying in front of the John Harvard Statue, Harvard students staged a “die-in” in solidarity with Iranian and Kurdish protesters on Thursday.
Around 40 protesters gathered for chants and speeches outside University Hall, with some expressing disappointment at the lack of an official statement in support of Iranian and Kurdish protests from University President Lawrence S. Bacow.
Protests erupted in Iran following the Sept. 16 death of 22-year-old Zhina Mahsa Amini in police custody after she allegedly broke the country’s rules on headscarves. Since protests began, Iran’s Human Rights Activists News Agency estimates that more than 230 people have been killed during demonstrations.
“We have gathered today to stand in solidarity with the people of Iran whose voices are being suppressed and lives are being put in danger while advocating for women, life and freedom,” said Ciara S. Moezidis, a Harvard Divinity School student who co-organized the protest. “It is important for all of us at Harvard to use our privilege to amplify the voices that are being silenced.”
Dalal Hassane ’26 also spoke at the demonstration to call for justice for Amini and other Kurdish people, a minority group in Iran that faces deep-rooted discrimination, per Amnesty International.
“We are tired of being told that this is not a Kurdish struggle, that this is only about women's rights,” Hassane said in her speech. “This resistance movement cannot be successful without the fight for Kurdish liberation.”
Saba Mehrzad ’25, who helped publicize the event to College students, said she hoped the demonstration would push the University to issue a response to the deaths and protests in Iran.
“Our main goal is to get President Bacow to release a statement in support and solidarity with the Iranian protesters,” Mehrzad said in an interview before the demonstration. “It’s a little disappointing that after weeks of protests, we haven’t had a statement.”
Harvard spokesperson Jason A. Newton declined to comment on student criticisms of the University’s response.
During the die-in, organizers read off names and ages of some of the known victims.
“Showing physically that these people are being murdered and are losing their lives in defense of freedom is a powerful image,” said Miriam S. Israel, a Divinity School student and protest attendee interviewed after the demonstration.
This is Harvard’s second demonstration this fall in support of Iranian women and Kurdish people. Undergraduates held a September protest on the steps of Widener Library which attracted around 50 Harvard affiliates.
Elom Tettey-Tamaklo, a student at the Divinity School and a freshman proctor, attended the protest hoping to call the University out on its lack of response.
“For me, it’s the silence of institutions like Harvard, who are supposed to be at the forefront of progressive thoughts and seeking truth,” Tettey-Tamaklo said. “When issues like this come up in our world — great human rights abuses — the University is silent.”
“You need to hold the University accountable for its silence,” he added.
Clarification: October 22, 2022:
This article has been updated to indicate that Ciara S. Moezidis was the co-organizer of the “die-in” demonstration, not the sole organizer.
—Staff writer Ella L. Jones can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @ejones8100.
—Staff writer Leah J. Teichholtz can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @LeahTeichholtz.
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