Protests in Iran

The media are not mentioning the victim’s Kurdish identity

The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) criticizes the fact that many media are not mentioning an important detail about the mass protests in the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI): “Despite all the justified indignation about Mahsa Amini’s death, her national identity is largely concealed,” Dr. Kamal Sido, the STP’s Middle East Consultant. “Mrs. Amini was Kurdish. In Iran, she was not allowed to use her Kurdish first name Jina. In addition to the misogynist dress code, the young woman suffered – like millions of other Kurds – from oppression by the Iranian authorities.”

After she was born, the Iranian authorities had apparently not allowed the parents of Jina Masha Amini to give their daughter the Kurdish name “Jina”. She was registered under the name “Masha”, but grew up being called “Jina” (“life”). “For many people, it is saddening that the young woman – following her violent death –is referred to as ‘Masha’ even in the media. This name was forced upon her by the same authorities that are now responsible for her death,” Sido stated.

The death of the 22-year-old in custody of the so called “morality police” had sparked mass protests in Iranian Kurdistan (Eastern Kurdistan) and in all of Iran. Immediately after her death was announced, Kurdish parties had called for public protests in Iran. The country’s security forces had responded with tear gas, water cannon vehicles, batons, and rubber buckshot. In some places, the police forces had apparently even used live bullets. “According to our Kurdish sources, at least four people have been killed and at least 200 injured in East Kurdistan alone. There is little information about the number of victims in other Iranian cities,” Sido added. In all of Iran, people – and especially women – are now showing solidarity with Jina Masha Amini by taking to the streets. They are chanting “Marg bar Stamkar, tsche Schah bascha, tsche Rahbar!“ – “Death to the despots, the Shah or the leader”, referring to the Shah (who was installed by the US and then overthrown in 1979) and to the current religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. 

Around 11 million of the 85 million inhabitants of Iran are of Kurdish origin. In the official province of “Kurdistan”, they are a majority – and also in a few other provinces in the west of the country. They like to call their settlement areas “East Kurdistan”, and they are very wary about the Shiite Mullah-regime, which has been in power since the overthrow of the Shah. The Mullahs had promised the Kurdish people and other population groups democracy and autonomy. However, this never came to fruition. Democracy and federalism are still the most important demands of the Kurds in Iran. The multi-ethnic state is also inhabited by Persians, Azeris, Baluchis, Ahwazis, Turkmen, Armenians, and Assyrians – and by the religious communities of the Bahai, Jews, Zoroastrians, and Christians. However, the majority of the population belongs to Shiite Islam.