Iran Protests Beat in the Heart of UC Irvine

Individuals demonstrate their support for the Iran Movement through their participation in rallies.

Tandis Soltani | Staff Photographer
Individuals demonstrate their support for the Iran Movement through their participation in rallies.

On Saturday, June 27, a GreeNeda rally was hosted at the University of California, Irvine’s Aldrich Park in order to demonstrate support toward the free Iran movement. This event was one among a myriad of others that have already taken place or have been scheduled to occur following the election.

Many individuals living both within Iran’s borders and in other nations believe that the election results are fraudulent and have united in peaceful gatherings and protests to express their desire for a fair and democratic election. Their efforts have been met with violence inflicted by the Basiji, Iran’s parliamentary forces under the direction of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and its current supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei.

One victim of the violence was 26-year-old Neda Agha Soltan, whose name also inspired the formation of the word GreeNeda. A video was captured of the young Iranian woman bleeding to death in the streets of Tehran, Iran’s capital, after being shot in the chest. The video was shared with people throughout the world using YouTube and Facebook.

A Facebook group is used to help spread GreeNeda’s message and to unify those standing for the same cause. The page discusses the goals behind the formation of GreeNeda, explaining that its “mission is to educate on human rights issues and to promote a platform for show of solidarity with the people of Iran as they seek their own freedom.”

To accomplish this, GreeNeda plans to organize a mass educational event on issues in Iran.

According to the Web site, “Expert speakers and educators will present their thoughts on the history and current events shaping today’s Iran and provide insight into the possibilities for the future.”

The organization seeks to share this message with both Iranian and non-Iranians alike.

The color “green” in the organization’s name was inspired by the pro-reform presidential candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi, who selected green as his campaign color. Members of the organization GreeNeda unite together in firm belief that change needs to be instated in Iran.

UCI’s GreeNeda rally opened with guest speaker Dr. Manual Gomez, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs at UCI. Dr. Gomez spoke about the importance of respect for freedom of speech, right to assembly and justice for all. He referred to dignity as a basic right that humans are entitled to and that no political system should be able to deprive its citizens of their fundamental rights.

Dr. Gomez also mentioned the significant role that the internet has played into the events taking place in Iran, specifically Twitter and Facebook.

The concept was reconfirmed by an article published by CNN on June 15, 2009 that discussed because Web site filtering is regulated by the government, individuals living within the borders of Iran have employed networking tools like Twitter and Facebook to convey messages to the rest of the world about events occurring in Iran. Even then, strategies have been generated to protect the citizens of Iran from utilizing these networking tools.

Arush Ebneyousef, an Orange County community member who runs the company Persiano Event Rentals, spoke following Dr. Gomez and revealed to members of the audience that the event was planned in an astounding time frame of only three to four days.

Booths were also set up throughout the venue to provide participants with food, water, an opportunity to donate to the cause and much more. Among the various booths was a petition table where volunteer Sudi Farokhnia explained that four different letters have been drafted that people could sign. Space had been left at the bottom for individuals to include a personal message if desired. The different letters drafted were addressed to: the United Nations, countries that have been quiet in response to the events and embassies that acknowledge Ahmadinejad and the Organization of Islamic Conference.

Participants at the event all wore an article of clothing with green to show their support for the cause and many carried signs that read messages such as, “Support the Fight for Human Rights in Iran,” and, “Neda died with open eyes. Shame on us if we live with closed eyes.”

Armin Ghamari, a participant at the rally, discussed why he chose to partake in the event.

“Today, the existence of the free world is at stake, not only in Iran but in the rest of the world. This is not only the cause of the Iranian people but of the cause of free people world,” Ghamari said.

Ghamari explained how severely the constituents of Iran are being deprived of their human rights.

“Part of the human rights we really enjoy in this country is the freedom of speech. But even before you can have freedom of speech, you need to have the freedom of thought,” Ghamari said. “I remember when I was a kid we used to have inquisitions of the people. If you want to have a job, they would interview you first for your ideas and beliefs and if you were not a good Muslim, you would not be able to get a job. That is how severe human rights are under threat in our country.”

The event moved forth with various speakers who addressed the crowd both in English and Farsi until approximately 9 p.m. that evening, closing the event with a candlelight ceremony. Supporters rallied the following afternoon in West L.A. to continue spreading their message and educate society on the issues of human rights.