Hundreds call for downfall of Iranian government amid global protests

Protesters in Washington Square Park called for revolution in Iran on Saturday following the Iranian government’s crackdown on protests.

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Carmo Moniz

Hundreds of protesters gathered in Washington Square Park, calling for a revolution against the current Iranian government, on Nov. 5. (Carmo Moniz for WSN)

Carmo Moniz, Deputy News Editor

More than 400 protesters gathered in Washington Square Park on the afternoon of Saturday, Nov. 5, to call for revolution against the Iranian government. Attendees protested the deaths and imprisonments of hundreds of people in Iran during nationwide demonstrations following the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who died in Iranian police custody in September.

Woman Life Freedom NYC, an activist group that advocates for the rights of women in Iran, planned the protest, one of many it has held since early October. Robert Riggs, an organizer with the group, said that although he used to believe that the current Iranian government could be reformed, he now thinks that a new government is needed to resolve the conflict in the country. 

“They are waging war on their own people as we speak,” Riggs said. “We just don’t see where there’s any opportunity for compromise with a regime like that. The Iranian people really do feel very ignored and isolated, and the government there is doing their best to cut off their internet access and ability to communicate with one another, so the more we can do to amplify their voices, the better.”

Protesters demanded that the Islamic Republic of Iran — which has governed Iran since 1979 — be taken down, chanting “one solution, revolution” and “down with dictators.” At multiple points during the protest, the crowd chanted “zan, zendegi, azadi,” a defining slogan of the protests in Iran that means “woman, life, freedom” in Farsi.

Some protesters participated in dances and demonstrations that resembled protests in Iran, and others held up signs with the faces of those killed or imprisoned in the conflict. NYU sophomore Roksaneh Salartash, a member of NYU’s Persian Cultural Society, attended the protest. She said she appreciated the dancing and traditional Iranian instruments.

“Today’s protest performance was so special,” Salartash said. “Music, dance and art is at the core of Iranian culture and is something the regime is trying to take away from us. Preserving our culture in such a beautiful way as a form of protest was truly powerful to witness.”

Many at the protest attended in support of family members in Iran. Roxanna Wilcox, who was there with her Iranian mother, said that her mother has been happy to see support for Iranians across the city.

“I don’t really know anywhere in Iran where women have freedom,” Wilcox said. “It would be really cool if in my lifetime I could see that, because in my experience in Iran, I’ve always had to be covered. That was always a significant part of visiting Iran — feeling the pressure of the Iranian government.”

NYU graduate student Parmida Mostafavi, who studies the Iranian American diaspora, said that conflict is also an issue for Iranians in New York City who have been identified as being against the government and cannot return to Iran.

“There’s a big diaspora community in New York City that is participating in these protests,” Mostafavi said. “It always means a lot to me to see other Iranians, there are so many of us in one space, and you always wish it were for something better — but there’s nothing more moving than seeing people united.”

Yezen Saadah contributed reporting.

Contact Carmo Moniz at [email protected]