Demonstrators marching to end tyranny in Iran gathered by the thousands in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday.
“We’re here to be a voice for the people of Iran. We are here for regime change,” said demonstrator Arezo Rashidian.
The L.A. rally is one of dozens around the globe comprised of people fighting for women’s rights in the oppressive Islamic state.
“We think we have it bad in America because of Roe v. Wade and whatever, but imagine not even being able to show your hair,” said protester Chanel Nami, who referenced a refrain reflected in protests worldwide. “So I just wanted to say, ‘Women, Life, Freedom.'”
These demonstrations were sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was taken into custody by Iran’s so-called morality police for not wearing her hijab, or headscarf, properly.
She died three days after her arrest, with Iranian officials claiming she had a heart attack. Witnesses and her family, however, say she was beaten to death.
Since Amini’s death, protests have erupted throughout Iran and around the globe, many led by young women demanding change.
Despite a crackdown by Iranian authorities that has resulted in dozens of deaths and thousands of arrests, the protesters refuse to quit.
“They are killing people in the street right now,” said demonstrator Abraham Komey.
“It’s easy to be a superhero when you have super powers. They don’t have super powers, but putting themselves in danger every sing time they go out on the street,” added protester Tehran Von Ghasri.
Southern California is home to the world’s largest population of Iranians outside of Iran, and many in the U.S. know firsthand the horrors that are inflicted by the Iranian state.
Homa Esfarjani has lived in the U.S. for decades, but before she fled Iran, three of her cousins were killed by the state.
“They killed them because they had one newspaper,” she said. “They killed them and the next day they brought their clothes, and they said you have to pay for the bullet used to kill them … for having the newspaper.”
Such cruelty has ignited a fire under those who are pushing for change.
“The people of Iran are just fighting for simple things like freedom, democracy, human rights, a secular separation of church and state, to be able to be free like us here in the United States,” Rashidian said.