The ongoing Iranian protests, which are also referred to as the Iranian Revolution has hit home for a local Weyburn family. After five years of planning their emigration to Canada, the Javanmardi family moved from Iran to Weyburn in December 2018.
Farrokh Javanmardi had a bright future for himself in Iran. He was working as an electrical engineer and had just been accepted to take his master's degree in Law, but when the door of opportunity opened to move his wife and daughter to Canada, he forfeited those opportunities to start a new life in Canada.
“The most important reason to come to Canada was for my daughter, because these things have been happening for years and years and I knew my daughter can’t have the right of life in my beloved country,” shared Javanmardi. “I came here for her, to make her future better, to give her the opportunity to grow in a liberal and democratic country.”
We asked Javanmardi to explain some of the differences between countries and how Canada provided a better life for his daughter.
“She was five, she had to go to a school in year six or seven, and she had to wear a scarf, a hijab, when she was only six years old, she had to cover herself just for going to elementary school. She can’t sing and can’t dance, she can’t go to a stadium to see a sport, maybe you can’t imagine that, but it is happening,” said Javanmardi. “Our ladies in my country, they want to change that, that discrimination.”
While it is illegal for women to sing or dance in Iran, they are allowed to play some sports, however, Javanmardi explains, girls playing sports doesn’t come without many limitations.
“They can’t play a sport without covering themselves completely, they have to wear pants, scarves, and long sleeves. My daughter plays soccer and I couldn’t watch my daughter play soccer, only the women can watch them play.”
Javanmardi continued, “Her body is her choice, then nobody could tell her you have to wear some things or not to wear some things.”
The spark of the recent Iranian protests began September 13, 2022, when 22-year-old Mahsa Amini was arrested by the ‘Morality Police’ for wearing her hijab incorrectly - some of her hair could be seen in public. Arrested and beaten by the police, three days later Amini died while in police custody. Iranian authorities report the 22-year-old died of a heart attack; however, protesters believe she succumbed to her injuries inflicted by the police.
“When she was arrested, when this happened, it felt like it happened to every sister, every mother, every daughter,” shared Javanmardi. “This revolution leads by the women, and the men protect them and support them, the women are in the first line, and the men and boys support them shoulder by shoulder.”
‘Women, Life, Liberty’, are the chants that can be heard from the Iranian protesters, Javanmardi shared a button with the same words.
“This is the words the protesters and revolution people that they yell in the streets, it means the revolution is leading by the women supporting by men, because we know the Islamic Republic can’t stand to give the women freedom, we don’t accept that the women can’t go to the street as they want, every people has a right to life it doesn’t matter what the government wants.”
Javanmardi continued, “In the west, people think the hijab is part of the culture, but it’s not, because when you saw the girls or ladies go to street, they bare their hijab, it means they don’t want this, some things are compulsory and mandatory, they force them to wear that. Most of my family don’t like to wear that and they had to. Might be some that like to wear but that doesn’t mean it's part of the culture, because our people before the 1979 revolution had freedom to wear hijab or not, the problem is they threaten them, the women, if they don’t wear that.”
It’s been over a hundred days since the Iranian protests began, and now they have stretched to major cities across North America.