Mahsa Amini died on September 14th after having been picked up by the religious police. In response to the protests that followed, the government switched off the internet. This has major consequences for Iranians outside the country. “We no longer have any contact with family, we aren’t getting any news from our country,” says campaigner Sharareh (her surname is omitted here but known to Cursor, ed.). On her smartphone, she shows that the WhatsApp group for Iranians living in Eindhoven has 1381 members. She estimates that certainly more than a hundred of them are connected to TU/e.
Sharareh, who doesn’t work at TU/e, is joining friends this week to hold six performances. The first took place today, Wednesday September 28th, at the entrance to Flux. She played Iranian music and then took on the role of Amini, who didn’t live to see her twenty-second birthday because allegedly she did not adhere to the dress code for women imposed by the religious police. The performance consisted of a ‘battle’ between liberty and the covering of mouth and eyes. By her own account, two-hundred people in Flux witnessed the performance. A pamphlet explaining recent events in Iran was available to those who wanted it.
Every day performances will now be held at a different building. Tomorrow at Gemini, Friday at Helix, next week Monday at Vertigo, Tuesday at MetaForum, Wednesday at the Auditorium and Thursday in Atlas. Each day, throughout the lunch break, the protest group will act out a different scene from Iran. Sharareh is considering whether to include an execution among the scenes.
As well as immediate passersby, the group is also keen to reach the Executive Board. An Iranian PhD candidate, working at Electrical Engineering, would like Iranians to be treated in the same way as Ukrainians. “It is difficult to draw a comparison, but as in Ukraine, people are now dying in Iran, are having to flee the country. When that started in Ukraine, there were blue and yellow flags all over the campus and help was offered.” The campaigners sincerely hope that Executive Board President Robert-Jan Smits drops by during a lunchtime performance.
The group is asking three things of the TU/e community. “Come to our final performance on October 6th in the hall of the Atlas building. Write about the Iranian protests on social media and use the hashtag #MashaAmini. Talk with journalists and politicians to exert pressure to stop the repression of the Iranian people.”
Although their personal circumstances are very difficult, the protest group is not without hope that things will improve in Iran. A PhD candidate resident in Eindhoven for the past three and a half years tells Cursor that he cannot go back to his home country. “I took part in protests and was arrested for doing so.” His friend adds: “The street protests in Iran are now stronger than ever. No dictatorial regime can exist forever. We hope that eventually this one ends.”