Group of women holding signs and talking on a microphone at a protest
Photo credit: Solidarity with Iranian Protests by Matt Hrkac is licensed under (CC BY–NC–ND 2.0).
CUPE Nova Scotia stands in solidarity with the Iranian people’s mass uprising against the autocratic and repressive Islamic Republic of Iran. The Iranian regime has unleashed its state security to quash the protestors and has so far brutalized, arrested, detained and murdered thousands of protestors. Despite this, the Iranian people have continued to defy the state and take over the streets. We are in awe of, grateful for, and inspired by their bravery.

On September 16, 2022, Iran’s so-called “morality police” murdered Mahsa (Jina) Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, for wearing clothes deemed inappropriate. In the aftermath, a mass movement protesting the Islamic Republic’s autocratic rule, unprecedented since the 1979 Revolution, has erupted in over a hundred cities nationwide.

It is critical to recognize the feminist nature of the uprisings: Iranian women are leading the movement in large part through removing the mandatory headscarf in defiance of the state’s heavy regulation of women’s bodies and attire. Circulating images show hijab-free women dancing, eating, chanting, burning headscarves or confronting the police, in an astounding form of feminist civil disobedience. The movement’s primary slogan has been “Woman, Life, Freedom” (“Jin, Jiyan, Azadi”), a lynchpin of the Kurdish feminist movement.

CUPE Nova Scotia also condemns the right’s use of the uprisings for its own imperialist and Islamophobic agenda. In recent weeks, we have seen attempts by conservative figureheads in Canada and globally to take over Iranian people’s quest for freedom. It is ironic that those on the right, who have long championed Islamophobic and anti-immigrant attitudes and structures, are now supposedly supporting the Iranian protestors. Western interventions in Iran, be it through military takeover or sanctions, are from a playbook that has hurt and killed the Iranian people for decades.

As feminists and as trade unionists, we stand united against all forms of gender and sex regulation, be it through mandatory veiling or unveiling, through banning reproductive healthcare or forcing sterilization, and against all patriarchal, misogynist, and racist policies and structures that deny people justice, freedom and dignity.

We call on the Iranian government to release all political prisoners, journalists and trade unionists, the majority of whom have been women, queer people, ethnic minorities, and youth. We send our condolences to the families of Amini, Nika Shahkarami, Sarina Esmaeilzadeh, and all others murdered by the Islamic Republic for the pursuit of freedom.

In solidarity,

Nan McFadgen
CUPE Nova Scotia President

On behalf of the CUPE NS Executive Board.