Concert to show support for human-rights activists fighting repression in Iran
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Winnipeggers have an opportunity to express support for Iranians facing violent repression in their fight for human rights at a solidarity concert entitled Woman, Life, Freedom Saturday.
The Iranian Community of Manitoba-organized show will feature various local jazz and classical artists — some from the Persian and Indigenous communities — and a Salvation Army band.
All of the musicians are donating their performances.
“The people of Iran are fighting for their human rights and freedom,” said Arian Arianpour, president of the Iranian Community of Manitoba.
“There have been many deaths, thousands have been imprisoned in the regime’s violent crackdown. They are sacrificing their lives for universal values.”
For Arianpour, who was a journalist in Iran before coming to Canada in 2018, the concert is a way for people to show they care about those sacrifices.
“We can make use of the freedom we have here to show our support for people in Iran, for those heroes who are putting their lives in danger there,” he said, noting that the title of the concert is a rallying cry in Iran.
“Each word shows a thirst for those values. There is beauty in each of those words.”
The recent wave of protests, beatings, arrests and executions around the country was sparked after Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish woman who was arrested for incorrectly wearing her hijab, died in custody last September.
The Iranian authorities’ attempts to crush the demonstrations have led to more than 500 people being killed by security forces, including 70 children. Four protesters have been put to death, and hundreds more are facing death sentences. According to the latest report from the group Human Rights Activists in Iran, 19,603 people have been arrested and are in detention.
The government is also suppressing the activities of religious and ethnic minorities and members of the LGBTTQ+ community, Arianpour said.
People attending the concert will be able to scan a QR code that takes them to change.org, where they will be able to put their names on multiple petitions to support the human-rights effort and oppose the actions of Iranian authorities.
“This is not just an issue for Iranians, but for the whole human race,” he said. “What happens in Iran can affect the whole world.”
Payam Towfigh came to Canada from Iran in 1985. The local businessperson is helping to organize the concert as a way to “celebrate the courage” of protesters in that country.
“It’s a heavy subject,” he said. “But we also want it to be inspiring when we think of those who have given their lives, been injured or imprisoned.”
The concert begins at 7 p.m. in Eckhardt Gramatte Hall at the University of Winnipeg. Tickets are $25 each, and are available at https://icmb.ca.
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John Longhurst has been writing for Winnipeg's faith pages since 2003. He also writes for Religion News Service in the U.S., and blogs about the media, marketing and communications at Making the News.
The Free Press acknowledges the financial support it receives from members of the city’s faith community, which makes our coverage of religion possible.