Text of Layla Sadeghi Namaghi’s speech on Iran at Senedd Strike Rally

As a PhD student and teaching assistant here in Cardiff, I am so proud to support the lecturers, academics, and all staff striking for change. My partner and his family are also nurses who, like you, deserve so much better. I’m going to tell you a bit about what’s happening in universities and across the country of Iran right now, as Iranians are fighting in their struggle for freedom. 

‘In the name of the God of Rainbows’- This is a sentence of a 10-year-old boy called Kian. He was a creative and intelligent young boy in Iran who was shot dead by the Police force while he was in his car with parents and younger brother.  

“Woman, Life, Freedom”, “Jin, Jiyan, Azadî”, is the slogan that Iranians have been chantingin the past 75 days in response to the Islamic Republic Regime’s fathomless violations of human rights. The slogan, in its essence, brings light to the systematic suppression of women’s rights and all minority groups in Iran. The revolution started with the death of Mahsa Amini, but according toreports, more than 400 people, including 63 children, have been killed and more than 18,000 people have been arrested since the protests began the real numbers are likely to be much higher than this. Furthermore, ethnic minorities, including Kurdish and Baloch people have been subjected to increasing suppression at ruthless levels. 

University students, like myself, and school children have joined the forefront of the revolution throughout the country by protesting, not attending classes, and writing statements to demand justice for political prisoners and victims. In return for their peaceful protests, the Regime’s security forces, specifically the Police, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the Paramilitary Volunteer Militia (the Basij force), and the Plainclothes Police have raided campuses, dorms, and high schools, and have assaulted and arrested a vast number of students. Many students have been either suspended from education or have been denied entry to campuses until further notice. Several professors and lecturers have also been dismissed or suspended due to their political stance in supporting the students. 

As we are releasing this statement, many students and academics are being assaulted, detained, abducted, and held in unknown locations. Some of those detainees are being subjected to brutal interrogations, coerced confessions,torture, and rape. Some are facing wrongful convictions, in particular, death penalties issued by the Regime’s courts. The imminent risk to students’ lives and safety in Iran is extremely dire and requires immediate action and attention from all who have freedom of speech. 

This is not only the story of teachers and educational staff who are under pressure and at risk, but also young school and university students who have been tortured, killed and imprisoned. Recently a 16-year-old girl was beaten to death in front of fellow students and teachers, by security Forces who forced their way into the school. There are headteachers who are leaving their jobs or confronting the authorities because they do not want to cooperate with the regime. One headteacher was imprisoned for not letting the authorities check the CCTVs in the school as they attempted to identify students who were protesting. Just yesterday another headteacher, Dr Zahra Lori, died. After supporting her student’s she was suspended, and was under intense mental pressure from the Islamic republic over the last four weeks. Shiva Mofakheri, a teacher and mathematician, like myself, was arrested two weeks ago – her fate and whereabouts remain unknown. In Iran, every moment of life is a protest, is a conflict. The Islamic Republic regime is actually sending students to mental hospitals for protesting, and this has been condemned by the American Psychiatric association.  

We thank NEU- National Education Union- who showed their solidarity with the Cooperative council of Iranian Teachers Trade (CCITT) on the 11th November. But there is more that the world can do, so we demand the following from academia and governments:  

  • To issue an official statement condemning and demanding an end to the assault on the academic community in Iran.  
  • To boycott Iranian university officials and academics who have actively facilitated and are facilitating the Regime’s attacks on Iranian students and scholars; this includes preventing their participation at international events and conferences, their collaboration to scientific discourse and publications, and their presence at academic institutions.  
  • To provide protective and facilitative measures for Iranian scholars at risk or in exile; measures include creating scholarships, explicit application processes; waiving tuition and application fees, and further accommodating actions. 
  • To establish and promote educational activities including funding programs and scholarly research projects that raise awareness on the human rights situation in Iran; workshops, panel discussions, conferences, and publications can be called to this matter both in the short- and long-term. 
  • To disengage with the Regime’s lobbyists who promote the Regime’s propaganda, and to amplify the collective voice of the people of Iran.  
  • To call for a firm and unequivocal release of all political prisoners and detainees of the current revolution in Iran, and to advocate international organizations including the United Nations and all its subsidiaries to apply maximal international pressure to hold the Regime accountable for its crimes and violations against human rights. 
  • To call for a halt to and abstain from any deal or action that will financially or otherwise assist the Regime. 

Your support is appreciated. We have freedom of speech here in Wales, please use it. Your silence helps the oppressor, not the oppressed. I am so happy to support all of you in the UCU and to receive support from you all. Please stand on the right side of history with us.  

In solidarity with the people of Iran, 

For Woman. Life. Freedom.