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Iran’s violent oppression of women and protesters underscores that women’s rights are human rights


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As the world witnesses the escalating oppression, abuse and even murder of peaceful protesters in Iran by the Iranian government, we are all reminded that women’s rights are human rights. No society can ever be free if half of its people are denied autonomy and the freedom of self-expression.

Our University, as an institution, is dedicated to working toward a more just, equitable world for all people. That’s why I condemn the Iranian government’s violence against its own people, including the Kurdish community and other marginalized groups, and the systemic oppression of women that led to the death of Kurdish woman Mahsa (Zhina) Amini for allegedly wearing her mandatory hijab “improperly.”

Our hearts are with the brave Iranians who are standing up to these violent crackdowns in the name of freedom and human rights, including the students and scholars of Sharif University of Technology and other Iranian universities. To our Iranian community members here at the UW, we are also holding you in our hearts at what is undoubtedly a difficult time. If you need support or someone to talk to, I hope you will make use of the resources in the sidebar.

For anyone who is looking for ways to show their support, a candlelight vigil will be held in Red Square today at 7:00 p.m. as part of a human chain stretching across the 520 bridge, and this Saturday, October 8, UW professors Shahrzad Shams and Aria Fani will lead a panel discussion on “Iran: Gender & Right After State Violence” at UW Bothell.

As a community, we stand with all people, around the world, who demand peaceful, free and open democratic societies. And through our own work as educators, scholars, activists and members of civil society, we will continue to work toward that vision.