Iranian-Americans push Minnesota electeds to support protests in Iran: 'So many children have been killed'

As the authorities in Iran continue a violent crackdown against protests, several hundred people joined another rally in support of the Iranian people in downtown Minneapolis on Saturday. They called for the regime to end and lit candles to commemorate the more than 200 Iranians killed in demonstrations so far. 

"We are doing a candlelight vigil because so many more lives have been taken over the last few weeks. There are so many children that have been killed. There are so many women that have been killed. There are so many our sons, our daughters' children are being killed," Ghazaleh Dadres, a public health worker who attended the protest told FOX 9. 

Human rights groups estimate that at least 223 protesters have been killed, including 23 children, after protests erupted in Iran following the death of Masha Amini in police custody on Sept. 16. Amini was arrested for allegedly improperly wearing an Islamic headscarf, and the protest movement has been led by women both within Iran and abroad. 

A rally in support of the Iranian people in Iran drew 80,000 people on Saturday, and rallies also occurred in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and other cities. 

The rallies in Minnesota have happened on the Nicollete Mall every Saturday for the last five weeks. "Women in Iran are fighting for their rights and for their freedom. And we are fighting right alongside them," Dadres said. 

One of the main groups organizing the protests, The Minnesota Committee in Support of a Democratic Iran, distributed a template for an email they are asking supporters to send to Minnesota’s Congressional and Senate representatives. The letter asked the representatives to make statements in support of the Iranian people and included three requests: 

  1. The US government should do more to facilitate unrestricted internet connectivity and the free flow of information in Iran.
  2. The US government should end/not resume negotiations with Iran.
  3. Representatives join calls made by a broad coalition of international human rights groups for a special session of the United Nations Human Rights Council to investigate the Iranian regime for human rights violations against its own population.

Dadres said they chose to hold the protest on the Nicolette Mall in downtown Minneapolis because it’s one of the few places in the Twin Cities where there are a lot of pedestrians who might see their protest. As the protests passed restaurants, patrons and waiters stopped to applaud and show their support. 

"Our country is suffering. Our country is under the siege of a regime that is not selected by the people. And we are asking our U.S. fellow citizens to help us raise awareness about the inhumane way that our country is treating the people," she said.  

More on the internet in Iran 

In September, the United States treasury expanded exceptions for sanctions against Iran to include internet technology services, like cloud-based VPN providers. On Friday, CNN reported that the Biden administration was in talks with Elon Musk to provide SpaceX’s satellite internet service Starlink inside Iran. Activists have reportedly already been spending Starlink terminals to protesters in Iran.