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Richmond resident worries for family in Iran amid protests

Death of 22-year-old Iranian woman has sparked worldwide protests.
Tila Akhavan
Tila Akhavan with the flag of Iran

“The internet was disconnected. We couldn’t talk to them.”

Tila Akhavan, a Richmond resident, is worried for her family who is in Iran during the ongoing protests triggered by the death of a 22-year-old woman.

“I couldn’t contact them for awhile and I was just praying for their safety,” said Akhavan.

“I couldn’t focus on my work and every time I looked at my Instagram there was always nothing.”

With the help of several Canadian telecommunication companies, many Iranians like Akhavan living in Canada were offered free, if not cheaper, phone plans to contact their families overseas.

For the past couple of weeks, thousands of protesters in Iran took the streets to vented their anger over the treatment of women and repression in general in the Islamic Republic.

These protests began as a reaction to the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman, who died while in police custody in Iran.

Amini had been detained by Iran’s morality police in the capital of Tehran for allegedly not following Iran’s strict Islamic dress code.

Videos shared across social media showed women throwing their hijabs on fires during the protests.

In response, the Iran government has restricted social media usage, such as WhatsApp and Instagram.

Akhavan told the Richmond News that the protests have “nothing to do with their religion and the cover (hijab).”

“The protests are about the pressure the government has had on people like the hijab police, which is something that has been going on for years,” she said.

“The hijab is a personal thing and women are tired of being pressured to wear it. They shouldn’t be beaten to death like Mahsa.”

Canadians have also taken to the streets to protest in solidarity with those in Iran.

Akhavan is hoping Canadians will amplify the voices of protesters in Iran.

“We have the freedom to share our thoughts, but people in Iran don’t have a voice so I’m hoping people (here) can be our voice and let everyone know what is happening inside Iran,” she said.

“Do not let them kill us in our own home behind closed doors. Help us please.”

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