Dozens of Israelis gathered in central Israel on Thursday evening to show solidarity with Iranian protesters ahead of the anniversary of the killing of Kurdish Iranian Mahsa Amini. The anniversary is set to be marked on September 16.
The event, organized by journalist and activist Emily Schrader and others, came as part of the #IsraelisLoveIranians campaign, which is taking place throughout the month of September.
I was proud to speak at Israel’s protest in support of the people of Iran against the regime tonight.با افتخار در تظاهرات امشب اسرائیل در حمایت از مردم ایران علیه رژیم سخنرانی کردم. با این پیام به همه مردم ایران، که شما دشمن ما نیستید و ما در مبارزه برای آزادی در کنار شما… pic.twitter.com/UAADGIV9do— Emily Schrader - אמילי שריידר امیلی شریدر (@emilykschrader) September 7, 2023
The campaign, which includes both a social media campaign and a series of planned events, encourages Israelis to post 1-2 sentences during the month of September about why they support the people of Iran against the regime.
From September 12-14, murals created in support of Iranian protestors will be unveiled in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Haifa.
While protests are being planned in countries around the world for September 16, Israeli activists decided to hold a protest event on Thursday as September 16 is both Shabbat and the first day of Rosh Hashanah.
At the event on Thursday, Israeli singer Itay Ben David sang the song "Baraye," written by Iranian singer-songwriter Shervin Hajipour amid the protests that swept Iran after Amini's death. The song quickly became an anthem during the protests.
Israeli singer Itay Ben David performs “Baraye” at the demonstration for the people of Iran held in #Israel tonight.#IranRevolution #MahsaDay #IsraelisLoveIranians pic.twitter.com/IfCA0QY52j— Emily Schrader - אמילי שריידר امیلی شریدر (@emilykschrader) September 7, 2023
Ben David wore a shirt with the words "Zan Zendegi Azadi" meaning "Woman, Life, Freedom" at the event. The slogan's equivalent in Kurdish has been used by Kurdish activists for decades and became a central part of the protests sparked by Amini's death.
In a speech at the event, Schrader stressed the importance of continuing to defend Iranian journalists, artists, activists, and athletes who are targeted and persecuted by the regime for protesting and reporting.
"As Israelis and as allies, it's important that we continue to echo their voices and tell their stories," said Schrader.
"Our friendship with the people of Iran breaks down the lie that has been told to the Iranian people for 44 years now. Which is why we must continue to raise our voices until the day this regime falls. I look forward to the day when we will have a Cyrus Accord and see a return to our thriving, peaceful, and mutually beneficial relations with the beautiful nation of Iran and its brave people."
Iranian authorities intensify crackdown on activists
Mahsa Amini was arrested by "morality police" officers in Tehran in mid-September last year for allegedly incorrectly wearing her hijab, with her family saying that she was beaten by the officers in the van that brought her to the police station.
At the police station, she collapsed and was brought to the hospital where she later died. Her relatives have told foreign media that they were kept largely in the dark about the situation.
Amini’s death in September 2022 sparked nationwide protests often referred to as the "Women, Life, Freedom" protests that swept across Iran for months, only declining in January. Protests have periodically renewed in several locations in the months since then.
In recent weeks, Iranian authorities have intensified their crackdown on activists and the relatives of protesters who were arrested or killed in the protests. Iranian officials have expressed concerns that protests could renew on the anniversary.
According to Hengaw, at least 72 relatives of arrested or killed protesters have been arrested in the past five months.
On Tuesday, Safa Aeli, Amini's uncle, was arrested, according to the Hengaw Human Rights Organization. Aeli was reportedly transferred to an unknown location after being arrested in Saqqez.
Kurdish groups call for general strike on Amini anniversary
On Wednesday, six political groups representing Kurds issued a joint statement calling for a general strike throughout Kurdish areas on September 16, including the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan, the Organization of the Toilers of Kurdistan (Komala Reform Faction), Komala: Kurdistan Organisation of the Communist Party of Iran, the Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK), Kurdistan Freedom Party (PAK), and the Organization of the Iranian Kurdistan Struggle (Khabat).
The groups, which have often had tense relations with each other, noted that the protests after Amini's death marked "the most popular and longest protest and uprising that was able to challenge the rule of the Islamic Republic and take steps towards the fall of this repressive regime."
The groups added that Kurds will visit Amini's grave and the graves of others killed by Iranian forces during the "Woman, Life, Freedom" protests on September 16 and will lay flowers on the graves.
The groups additionally called on "all the freedom-loving people of Iran" to support the general strike and hold marches and public gatherings.