Bristol Uni Students stage powerful protest in solidarity with students of Iran

‘They’ve been killed, detained, tortured, and I think all we want to bring awareness is what is happening – a Human rights issue nothing more or less’

University of Bristol Students took part in a student-organised global rally standing in solidarity with Iranian students, showing their support and lending their voices to the cause of freedom and justice.

Gathered outside the Victoria rooms at 4 pm, members of Persian Society held up photographs of missing, murdered and detained Iranian students.

The rally follows an intensified government crackdown on student protesters in Iran, with hundreds of individuals being brutally attacked, killed, and arbitrarily arrested for demanding freedom and democracy.

Two months ago, The Bristol Tab covered Persian soc’s concerns over the university’s response to unrest in Iran, speaking to members of the Persian society at the protest 2 months later, it seems it has been too easy for the university to remain silent on the issue: “All of this started on the 13th of September, and we have still heard pretty much nothing from the university” which is “interesting because they do follow the government’s kind of role and what they do in response to it.”

Considering Bristol Uni’s high intake of international students, demonstrators raised concerns about how: “It’s not just the Iran issue, with many other countries most of the time they don’t speak up about it and it raises the question, are universities a-political or are they just picking and choosing what they talk about.”

With many other universities around the world being forthcoming in their support for students organising in solidarity with Iran, it remains to be seen whether Bristol will use its reputation to stand with the students in solidarity towards those suffering in Iran.

In what is the third month of revolution against the regime, protests are very much student-led and due to their use of social media to connect to the international community, a new form of pressure has been placed on the Iranian government.

Speaking to the students outside Victoria Rooms it was clear that the value of social media support has changed in this context: “Unfortunately, usually when you look at protests and things – everyone posting stuff on their stories and things, it’s just performative, but this time round it’s pretty much all we can do, spread the word and let them know.”

By creating a back and forth and showing “them that we are doing things as well, keeps them going and keeps up with the moral letting them know that other countries are with them.”

One demonstrator explained how “because of all the photos of people campaigning across the world circulating on social media, they (Iranian government) feel like they can’t silence people around the world as well as those in their country.”

Last month the UN Human Rights Council voted to establish a fact-finding mission to investigate Iran’s handling of the protests, however, Tehran has refused to cooperate with the mission because of its ‘political’ nature.

Under this refusal protesters echoed the importance of not letting silence win, this message was deeply personal for those students who shared their anxieties about family and friends currently living in Iran.

As one student told us “you never know who is going to be at home at the end of the day, our anxieties are nothing to those of the parents there, but it is difficult for us to go through the day living normal university when everything is going on Iran.”

Despite these daily concerns Bristol Students continue to protest and speak out against the human rights violations taking place in Iran. They remain determined to use their collective voice to demand change and support those who cannot speak out.

While Persian Soc awaits a response from the university that meets their desire, members implore students to “challenge your universities, challenge your lecturers to be talking about these things because it’s not the first time it’s happened and it’s not going to be the last unless we start talking about it.”

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