WASHINGTON (AP) – Chanting crowds marched in the streets of Berlin, Washington DC and Los Angeles on Saturday in a show of international support for demonstrators facing a violent government crackdown in Iran, sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of that country’s morality police.
On the U.S. National Mall, thousands of women and men of all ages – donning green, white and red, the colors of the Iran flag – chanted. “Be scared. Be scared. We are one in this,” some shouted, ahead of the group’s march to the White House. “Say her name! Mahsa!”
The demonstrations, put together by grassroots organizers from around the United States, drew Iranians from across the Washington D.C. area, with some travelling down from Toronto to join the crowd.
In Los Angeles, home to the biggest population of Iranians outside of Iran, a throng of protesters formed a slow-moving procession along blocks of a closed downtown street. They chanted for the fall of Iran’s government and waved hundreds of Iranian flags that turned the horizon into a 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.
She said women can be arrested for wearing the wrong makeup color, historically important women are omitted from book and they have few rights in matters such as divorce and child custody. Iranian women “are standing up to unbelievable odds for basic human rights.”
The Biden administration has said it condemns the brutality and repression against the citizens of Iran and that it will look for ways to impose more sanctions against the Iranian government if the violence continues.
In Tehran, more antigovernment protests took place Saturday at several universities. The nationwide movement in Iran first focused on the country’s mandatory hijab covering for women following Amiri’s death on Sept. 16. The Iranian protests have since transformed into the greatest challenge to the Islamic Republic since the 2009 Green Movement over disputed elections.
Iran’s security forces have dispersed gatherings in that country with live ammunition and tear gas, killing over 200 people, including teenage girls, according to rights groups.
In Berlin, nearly 40,000 people gathered turned out to show solidarity for the women and activists leading the movement for the past few weeks in Iran. The protests in Germany’s capital, organized by the Woman(asterisk) Life Freedom Collective, began at the Victory Column in Berlin’s Tiergarten park and continued as a march through central Berlin.
Some demonstrators there said they had come from elsewhere in Germany and other European countries to show their support.
“It is so important for us to be here, to be the voice of the people of Iran, who are killed on the streets,” said Shakib Lolo, who is from Iran but lives in the Netherlands. “And this is not a protest anymore, this is a revolution, in Iran. And the people of the world have to see it.”
Several weeks of Saturday solidarity rallies in the U.S. capital have drawn growing crowds.
Blood reported from Los Angeles.