UTAH (ABC4) — Iran’s Revolutionary Court has sentenced an anti-government protestor to death on Sunday, Nov. 13. While many people have died in Iran during protests in recent weeks, this is the first known death sentence from the government.
Iranian Americans in Utah are encouraging other Americans to keep sharing the news and to put pressure on their elected leaders to cut ties with the Iranian government.
“One thing a majority of Iranians are very clear and united about is that [the] Islamic republic must go,” said Hamid Ghandehari, the interim civil rights committee chair for Iranian American Society of Utah.
He added that he is not surprised by the recent move by the Iranian government, which he said doesn’t represent the people of Iran.
“Many Iranians also believe that we have to respect ethnic minorities. We have to respect people’s right to [believe] whatever religion that they wish, and we have to respect people with basic human rights,” he stated.
He emphasized that these are all beliefs the current government does not adhere to.
The death sentence comes after months of civil unrest in response to the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini. Amini died in September in an Iranian jail after being arrested for allegedly breaking the country’s dress code for women.
Protests and demonstrations have broken out across the globe in response to the young woman’s death, including in Utah.
“We call it a revolution now, right? A protestor revolution,” said Arman Samani.
Samani and his wife, Rana, live in Sandy. They’ve called Utah home for more than two decades. They met each other here in Utah years before moving here. They love Utah, they love the U.S., and they love their Iranian heritage. They also love their family members who remain in Iran.
“There are horrific human rights violations happening. They did this before,” said Rana Samani.
The couple worries for their loved ones in Iran. Rana Samani explained that while they worry for their safety now, they’ve been worried about them off and on for 40 years. She said the government has continually infringed on their human rights.
Rana Samani said that the Iranian government restricts the internet as much as possible to repress people from speaking out. However, she said she believes that as technology has improved over the last few years, it’s allowed more information to make it to the outside world. Nonetheless, those who choose to speak up, speak out and protest are still at risk.
“If we don’t take any action, they will kill them. And that’s why we’re trying to create awareness around the world,” she added.
The Samai family hopes Americans will put pressure on their elected officials.
“As long as this is going on, all the nuclear deal negations should be on hold,” Arman Samani said. “There is no reason to negotiate with a government that is repressing its people.”
They encouraged Utahns to continue sharing information online about the protests in Iran as it comes out. They encouraged all Americans to find local Iranian organizations that may need help or offer other resources regarding Iranian citizens’ needs. They also highly encouraged Americans to write to the United Nations and other organizations to push for an investigation into the human rights violations in Iran.
While they worry for those in Iran, Utahns such as Ghandehari remain hopeful for the future.
“A democratic Iran is good for world peace,” Ghandehari said. “It’s definitely good for peace in the Middle East. As you know, world politics are connected now more than ever before. What we do on one side of the world has a ripple effect on the other side of the world.”