The Art of Woman, Life and Freedom

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Where are you? | Credit: Simin Keramati.

In late June, the Student Representative Council (SRC) issued a statement titled: SRC Calls on Western Sydney University to Pressure the Federal Government to Place Further Sanctions on the Iranian Government and Officials.

As the title indicates, the statement entailed a proposal for Western Sydney University to use its influence to acknowledge the ongoing protests in Iran by calling on the Australian government to further ‘pressure and sanction’ the Iranian government.

What happened in Iran to cause such a reaction from the SRC?

While scrolling through social media in September 2022, you might have noticed videos going viral of celebrities and women worldwide cutting their hair in solidarity with the Woman, Life, Freedom movement in Iran.

The movement began as a protest against the unjust killing of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini by the Iranian morality police. Eventually, the protest grew, shedding light on all the grievances of the Iranian people.

As it gained momentum, this outcry for women’s freedom, united with the economic reform protests from previous years, sparked a demand to overthrow Iran’s oppressive Islamic Republic regime of Iran.

W’SUP spoke to the Bayan Sohailee, the SRC’s Vice President of Activities (VPA) to delve into the driving force behind the statement.

“I am so glad to hear that the statement has made an impact within our university. I authored the statement, being an Iranian-Kurdish Refugee,” says Bayan.

“I cannot stay silent while many innocent women, men, and children give their lives for their country and freedom. I have the privilege of being in a safe country, and I strongly believe that those who are in such positions of privilege and freedom should speak up for those who cannot. I once read, ‘the only thing scarier than not being able to speak up is having the ability but choosing not to.’ Therefore, as long as Iran and our women are facing injustice, I will speak up for them. It is the right thing to do,” he added.  

Make up | Credit: Simin Keramati.

Why issue the statement now?

The SRC posted their statement a day following an event dubbed ‘SAY HER NAME’, co-hosted by sociocultural anthropologist Prof. Pedram Khosronejad and SRC Vice President Bayan Sohailee.

Prof. Pedram Khosronejad’s statement (@pkhosronejad)

They aimed to investigate the impact of artistic engagement in the now-global Iranian Woman, Life, Freedom Movement. The event incorporated the voices of three international Iranian female activists and artists living in exile and diaspora from Paris to California.

In an Instagram post detailing the event, Prof. Pedram Khosronejad said that the event was held as a gesture of solidarity, by way of art, with the struggle for Iranian women’s rights.

Say Her Name poster (@pkhosronejad)

“During the event, we welcomed three well-known artists who used their works to speak up for the women of Iran. I have come to learn that art can be such a powerful tool to create change. Art can even force a government to change, rise, or fall,” Bayan said. 

So, to supplement this change, it seems only reasonable to highlight the women’s movement in Iran to the broader university community once more with the SRC statement.

“[This statement] is just my, and our, way of gaining just a little bit of justice,” says Bayan.

Maya Salim

Hi there! I am currently studying psychology. I chose this because I revel in uncovering…

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