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Purdue Iranian students hold event calling for university to condemn Iranian government

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A shirt meant to symbolize protestors killed in nationwide protests in Iran. (WBAA News/Ben Thorp)

Purdue University students from Iran held an event Wednesday night aimed at raising awareness about the situation in their home country, where the government has responded violently to nationwide protests.  

Members of Purdue’s Iranian Cultural Club held a rally at the Krach Leadership Center on campus that included songs, statements, and even a short skit identifying some of the people who have died during protests, which began in September after a woman died shortly after being detained for violating the country’s strict dress code.

The gathering was one of many held on Nov. 30 at universities across the world, coordinated by the Iranian Scholars for Liberty.

An organizer of the event, who did not wish to be named for fear of retaliation against her family, said many Iranians want to see the overthrow of the Islamic Republic Government.

“All of the people who have been kind of oppressed all these years have they start to kind of fighting for their lives,” she said. “From the women movement, it becomes a revolution movement. We don’t think you can answer correctly to our demands so we need a change.”

Students have also released a list of demands, including a call for Purdue to put out a statement condemning the assault on academia in Iran and a boycott of Iranian academics who have “facilitated the Regime’s attacks on Iranian students and scholars.”

Iran’s security forces have launched attacks on universities across the country where students had gathered for demonstrations.

Purdue student organizers said they hope they can keep national and international focus on Iran in order to protect people there from the government. Organizers point to similar protests in 2019, which ended with some 1,500 people being killed.

“For us Iranians outside the country, it is really important for the West to keep paying attention to this matter,” one organizer said. “The moment that the whole world stop paying attention to Iran, they will execute everyone, literally everyone, so many people who are in the street, sharing stuff on social media, this is not the first time.”

The United Nations Human Rights Council last week announced they were launching an investigation into Iran’s alleged human rights violations, something Purdue students say is likely protecting citizens from the worst-case scenarios right now.

Still, Purdue Iranian students expressed hope for the future of their country - and the overthrow of the current government.

“I’m so optimistic that this time is different and this time it’s going to happen because I see this awareness in people,” the organizer said. “Because they are so aware of everything I don’t think they will be satisfied with the previous government.”

But that hasn’t stopped students from being cautious about what they want shared on social media and in public.

“I think it’s the result of being raised in this dictatorship, we all of us have these fears inside of us,” the organizer said. “Especially because my family are there – I mean I’m not afraid because of myself, but I’m really afraid if this becomes viral, for example, they definitely would go after my family. I don’t want that to happen.”