Rally for Iran: SLUdents stand in solidarity


(Gabby Chiodo / The University News)

Over 40 students from Saint Louis University and Washington University gathered Wednesday morning at the clocktower to stand in solidarity with Iranian protesting against the Islamic Republic of Iran. The rally was organized by SLU’s Cross Cultural Center, Center for Social Action and the Iranian Scholars for Liberty. The Iranian Scholars for Liberty is a collective group of Iranian scholars from universities throughout the globe whose mission is to amplify the voice of the people of Iran.

The Islamic Republic has experienced a number of anti-goverment protests after the death of Iranian-Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini. She died in the custody of the morality police on Sept. 16 after being arrested for wearing clothes considered to be inappropriate. Protestors are calling for the overthrow of Iran’s theocracy.

Washington University medical student, Amir Kucharski, hosted the rally. 

“This is no longer a riot or a protest, this is a revolution,” Kucharski said. 

He urged those who attended the rally to understand the gravity of the situation and its global implications by comparing the ongoing crises in the Middle East to the beginnings of World War II. 

“The parallels are unmistakable and this is why we need to be the voice of freedom. Not only because we need to stand up for human rights everywhere, but because if we don’t stand up for human rights everywhere, then human rights will be affected anywhere,” Kucharski said. 

Two SLU students, Nikolay Remizov, a sophmore, and Abtin Alizadeh, a first year, also spoke at the rally. Remizov addressed the mass killings of Kurdish protestors by the Islamic Republic.

“To date, the Islamic Republic regime has killed more than 120 Kurdish individuals and arrested more than 1,300 individuals whose lives are at risk of the death penalty,” Remizov said. “A full-blown genocide is occurring in Iran and we have to be their voice.”

Alizadeh presented a list of demands aimed at academic and government institutions. 

“In solidarity with the people of Iran. For women, life, freedom,” Alizadeh said. 

The demands were student-centered as many Iranian students, specifically, women, who face restrictions in access to education. denied access to education. 

Alizadeh and the Iranian Scholars for Liberty demanded the following: 

  1. To issue an official statement condemning and demanding an end to the assault on the academic community in Iran.
  2. To boycott Iranian university officials and academics who have actively facilitated and are facilitating the Regime’s attacks on Iranian students and scholars; this includes preventing their participation at international events and conferences, their collaboration to scientific discourse and publications and their presence at academic institutions.
  3. To provide protective and facilitative measures for Iranian scholars at risk or in exile; measures include creating scholarships, explicit application processes; waiving tuition and application fees, and further accommodating actions.
  4. To establish and promote educational activities including funding programs and scholarly research projects that raise awareness on the human rights situation in Iran; workshops, panel discussions, conferences and publications can be called to this matter both in the short and long-term.
  5. To disengage with the Regime’s lobbyists who promote the Regime’s propaganda, and to amplify the collective voice of the people of Iran.
  6. To call for a firm and unequivocal release of all political prisoners and detainees of the current revolution in Iran and to advocate international organizations including the United Nations and all its subsidiaries to apply maximal international pressure to hold the Regime accountable for its crimes and violations against human rights.
  7. To call for a halt to and abstain from any deal or action that will financially or otherwise assist the Regime.

Dr. Fred Pestello, president of Saint Louis University, attended part of the event and promoted it on his Instagram with the caption, “Today, rallies in solidarity with the protesters in Iran will take place at @SLU_Official and 150+ universities across the globe. We stand in support of our Iranian students and scholars who are raising their voices for human rights, dignity, and freedom. #CampusRallyforIran.” 

Kucharski ended the rally by urging people to call their legislators and asking them to pass House Concurrent 110 and Senate Concurrent Resolution 47. These bills are officially “commending the bravery, courage and resolve of the women and men of Iran demonstrating in more than 80 cities and risking their safety to speak out against the Iranian regime’s human rights abuses.” The event was hosted in conjunction with a call-in advocacy day sponsored by the Cross-Cultural Center and the Center for Social Action supporting the same bills.