Thousands of people gathered in Toronto’s Richmond Hill community on Saturday to mark the anniversary of the killing of protesters in Iran in November 2019.
According to Amnesty International, some 321 people died in just a matter of days during protests triggered by a steep increase in fuel prices.
In addition to marking the anniversary, those at Saturday’s event demanded justice for the families and victims of the 2020 downing of flight 752 shortly after take-off in Iran. All 176 people on board were killed in the crash.
Amir Ali Alavi says his mother, Neda Sadighi, was among those killed when the Ukraine International Airlines flight, bound for Kyiv, went down just minutes after taking off from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport.
“My heart really goes out to all of the victims, more than 400 people have been killed in the recent uprising in Iran,” Alavi told CBC News.
“Our hearts go out to all of those people and their families. We see, we know how it feels. We hope that victory will come soon.”
Alavi says it’s important for all Western governments and people in the free world to stand for the values Iranian people are bringing to the streets.
“They’re shouting, they’re chanting, it’s important to recognize the regime in Iran for what it is, for the killing machine that it’s launching everywhere in the country and recognize this as a revolution, not reform,” he said.
Ongoing protests after death of Mahsa Amini
Saturday’s protest was also a mark of support for the ongoing protests in Iran after the death of a 22-year-old woman after she was detained by the morality police.
Mahsa Amini was arrested in Iran on Sept. 13 after police reportedly took issue with her hijab, a headscarf that Iran’s morality police requires all women, regardless of nationality or religious belief, to wear. She died three days later.
“We are here to support the big movement in Iran that wants to overthrow the regime,” Mahmood Ahmadi, an attendee at the rally, told CBC News.
“For more than 40 years, women, they don’t have no rights at all … right now the regime of Iran they are killing small children, 10 years old, five years old.”
Protests first erupted after the Sept. 16 death of Amini and rapidly escalated into calls for the overthrow of Iran’s ruling clerics and an end to the theocracy established after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
People are saying that enough is enough, this regime has to go.– Mahmood Ahmadi
At least 388 people have been killed and more than 16,000 arrested, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group monitoring the unrest. It says at least 53 members of the security forces have been killed.
Rights groups accuse security forces of firing live ammunition at demonstrators, and of beating them with batons, violence captured in numerous videos circulated online.
“People are saying that enough is enough, this regime has to go,” Ahmadi said.
“All over the world … [people] are in the street and they said they have to go, and this regime will go, no matter what, this regime will go.
“We are here because we are one movement. It doesn’t matter if we are in Toronto, it doesn’t matter if we are in Europe, it doesn’t matter if we are in Iraq. Everybody, we are together to get rid of this brutal regime,” Ahmadi added.