Board of Supervisors to send letter in support of Iranian protesters

483070 BOS Meeting 04-05-22: Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, left, confers Supervisor Hilda L Solis during the Board of Supervisors meeting on April 5, 2022. (Bryan Chan / Los Angeles County)

Three days after 22-year-old Iranian Mahsa Amini was arrested by the country’s religious morality police for incorrectly wearing her hijab, she was transferred to a hospital in Tehran, where she reportedly died of a skull fracture caused by heavy blows to the head. While she was in custody, eyewitnesses described that Amini had been severely beaten. Iranian state officials claimed she died of a heart attack.

Protests gripped the Iranian capital before spreading across the country, then the world.

On Oct. 1, thousands of Angelenos marched through the streets of Downtown before gathering in Pershing Square, where protesters rallied against the Iranian regime, called for women’s rights and demanded that the city’s leadership take notice.

The Los Angeles Board of Supervisors has now agreed to send a letter to President Joe Biden in support of the protesters in Iran. The motion was led by Supervisor Hilda Solis and co-authored by Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who said she was “happy to see protests all over the world concerning the death of this women and the treatment of women in Iran” in a meeting on Oct. 18.

“This is not just one woman’s case,” Kuehl explained. “This is a reform movement now led by young women, old women, all women across all of our different communities. I hope this serves as a wake-up call for oppressive regimes worldwide.”

In a general comment during the meeting, one public speaker thanked Solis and asked the board to “show solidarity with the brave women and girls of Iran and around the world. With the government cracking down on the protesters and limiting access to the internet, this motion will help to show the Iranians that we are with them. Please, no negotiation with the Islamic Republic of Iran. … They’re not representing Iran for Iranians.”

“As an Iranian, we expect to stop any kind of negotiation with a brutal regime,” another public speaker added. “As one involved in the 1999 student uprising, I can echo the voice of not only women in Iran but the majority of the population, even young children, who are demanding regime change.

“It’s women that are shouting in the streets in the cities of Iran for decades, including during the Green Movement in 2009, which was ignored by our policymakers and instead led to another direction. Since then, hundreds of people were killed, including 32 children, and dozens detained and tortured and raped. Now the world must hear them.”

Los Angeles is home to the largest Iranian population in the world outside of Iran. According to the Census Bureau, the city is home to more than 87,000 people of Iranian ancestry.

“I was active in Iran in the student uprising in 1999,” said Roozbeh Farahanipour, president at West Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce. “I was detained and tortured, a victim of torture with the Islamic Republic of Iran and continue to fight against this regime. I came here 22 years ago as a political asylum. I had a firsthand experience with the regime killing people on the streets in Iran. I demand the Board of Supervisors … to demand regime change and ask the federal government and administration to not do any negotiation with Iran.”

After Amini’s death and the protests that ensued, a fire erupted at Evin prison in northern Tehran that has killed at least eight people as police clashed with inmates and riot forces have raided the Sharif University of Technology, reportedly tear gassing, beating and detaining students at one of the largest engineering schools in the country.

“The crackdown has resulted in the death of at least 215 people … that we know of,” Solis said. “This board must show solidarity with the protesters in Iran.”

After approval from Solis and Kuehl along with Supervisors Kathryn Barger and Janice Hahn, the motion carried “four to zero.”

“These courageous women and young girls are inspiring to all of us, and we need to continue to fight for equal rights in every corner of this planet,” Solis said. “With this motion … Los Angeles County is taking a stand in support of a better future for Iran and for its population, one that ensures equal treatment to Iranian women and girls to have access to all the opportunities that they deserve.”