Iran, a country located in the Middle East, is of diverse ethnicity and has a rich and long culture of art, literature, music, and architecture. In the last few months, the country has become the scene of a war between people looking for freedom and a fanatic regime that is brutally killing its own people. More than two months have passed since mass protests started in Iran after 22-year-old Mahsa Jina Amini, an Iranian Kurdish woman, was beaten to death while in custody by the morality police in Tehran. The youth-led movement continues to gain strength and capture global attention despite increasing violence at the hands of the regime. This is an intersectional civil-rights movement, led by women and girls, calling for an end to the decades-old dictatorship and its gender-based discrimination and state-sanctioned violence against women. The people in Iran are fighting for a secular government, democracy, freedom of speech and press, and equality for all minorities subjugated by the Islamic Republic, including religious minorities, ethnic minorities, and LGBTQ people. More than 400 protesters including 60 children have been reportedly killed by regime forces and thousands of people including more than 500 university students have been arrested. At least four people have been sentenced to death on the charge of "enmity against God" in connection with the recent protests.
Through these hard times, the life of Iranian students in the University of Massachusetts community has been crippled with constant sorrow, stress, and anger by the news coming out of their homeland. With the regime shutting down or severely throttling internet access for people in Iran, the only way for these students to contact their families and friends in Iran is through costly landlines or VPN services they have purchased for their families to circumvent the censorship. Those who rely on the financial support of their families in Iran for their studies have been stricken by financial hardship as exchanging foreign currencies in Iran has become extremely difficult. At the same time, the value of the Iranian currency has dropped to its lowest point during the ongoing protests. Furthermore, many Iranian students at UMass are trying to amplify the voices of people in their home country by organizing rallies and events which are also an added expense for students dealing with a rising cost of living. To support the UMass Iranian students, we have created this fundraising campaign and we do appreciate all your generous support in advance. The funds will be collected and distributed to students in need by UMass Amherst.