San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

SDSU Persian Association holds vigil for Mahsa Amini in support of Iranian protests

The atmosphere was solemn as Iranian-Americans, and gatherers remembered Mahsa Amini’s life and protested against the Islamic Republic of Iran
Huy Huynh
Students wait for the vigil honoring the life of Mahsa Amini to begin.

The vigil was held to honor Mahsa Amini’s life and to show support for Iranians risking their lives to protest for women’s rights and freedom.

During the hourlong vigil, organizers from the SDSU Persian Association set up Amini’s memorial, distributed candles and spoke to over a hundred students.

In an interview, the President of the SDSU Persian Association, senior kinesiology undergraduate, and vigil organizer Tiam “TJ” Kord spoke about the significance of the vigil for SDSU.

“It’s important for the Iranian community to come together in this type of time,” Kord said. “Seeing that we have the support of other people that are not part of the Persian community means the world to us, and it’s also about spreading awareness about what’s going on.”

Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurd, died in a hospital on Sept. 16. She’d been detained three days earlier by Iran’s Guidance Patrol, popularly known as the “morality police,” for allegedly not wearing her hijab appropriately.

Witnesses dispute the morality police’s claim that Amini had a heart attack, fell and died after two days in a coma.

Amini’s death has sparked outrage against the Iranian government, with thousands of students protesting across campuses, demanding women’s rights and justice for Amini, including calls for the Iranian government to be ousted.

“Enough of the oppression and killings for four decades,” Kord said. 

Senior business marketing major and vice president of SDSU’s Persian Association, Leila Zonoobi, also spoke to the crowd about the Iranian government’s long track record of human rights abuses and how the revolution caused her parents to leave Iran to the United States back in the mid-70s. 

The Islamic Republic of Iran was created in April 1979 following a nationwide vote. Ayatollah Khomeini led the 1979 revolution that ousted Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi and was Iran’s political and religious leader for ten years until he died in 1989. Khomeini pledged that all Iranians would be free, though repeated human rights violations have marked the last 43 years.

Opponents of stated or implied official policy face considerable constraints on their freedoms of belief, expression, association and assembly.

Nikki Rismani, a senior finance undergraduate, and Dori Kamyabi, a senior kinesiology undergraduate, addressed the crowd on the oppression of women’s rights in Iran and how justice for Amini would be related to gender equality.

Kord also talked about Amini’s justice and how it appears like a movement is in the process.

“Justice for Amini looks like the Islamic regime that’s terrorizing our country, killing our people, being overthrown,” Kord said.

In an interview, Zonoobi, a senior business marketing undergraduate, spoke about what the vigil means for Iranians.

“Our oppression has been silenced for so long, and it’s time for our voices to be heard,” Zonoobi said. “This movement is not going to execute successfully without the help of the voices of millions of people around the world.”

Zonoobi discussed the morality police in Iran and how such enforcement works for someone who has never visited Iran. 

“There’s no difference between morality police and police, and they’re not peace officers that are going to come up to you and tell you to fix your hijab,” Zonoobi said.

Nikki Rismani, a senior finance undergraduate, spoke about the state of women’s rights in Iran.

“It’s ridiculous that a girl would end up dead from horrible injuries that they are lying about completely,” Rismani said. “Women are treated almost worse than second-class citizens.”

Rismani also emphasized how a crime against one woman is a crime against all and how international solidarity would be justice for Amini.

“Like when they had the ‘me too’ movement here, it is impossible in Iran since rape is primarily blamed on women, and it is challenging to accuse a man of anything,” Rismani said.

In an email sent out on Sept. 28, SDSU President Adela de la Torre and Luke Wood, vice president for Student Affairs and Campus Diversity, addressed the death of Mahsa Amini.

“On behalf of SDSU, we wish to express our deep concern about the tragic death of Mahsa Amini and to reinforce our fundamental support for gender equity and for human rights – including the right to protest peacefully. We grieve with you over the human cost of the lives lost and recognize that so many families are impacted,” the email said.

About the Contributors
Ryan Kehl, Staff Writer
Raised in North Philadelphia, Ryan is a senior majoring in journalism with an emphasis in advertising. He recently completed a copywriting internship at Motive and served as vice president of public affairs on the Professional Studies and Fine Arts College Council. His interests include "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," Meek Mill, "Rocky," and "Elden Ring," along with cheesesteak egg rolls and soft pretzels.
Huy Huynh
Huy Huynh, Staff Writer
Huy Huynh was born and raised in San Diego, California and attended Patrick Henry High School in Del Cerro. After graduating, he studied at Grossmont College, right before transferring to San Diego State University as a psychology major with a minor in Digital and Social Media Studies. In his free time, he enjoys reading, making music, or creating videos, which he also does for work as a freelance videographer/editor. He is currently a staff writer for the Daily Aztec, working in multiple sections such as Arts and Culture as well as the News section. Huy is also bilingual in Vietnamese.
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San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
SDSU Persian Association holds vigil for Mahsa Amini in support of Iranian protests