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Women protest death of Mahsa Amini in Iraq

Women chant slogans and hold up signs depicting the image of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died while in the custody of Iranian authorities, during a demonstration denouncing her death in Arbil, the capital of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region, on September 24, 2022. (Photo: Safin Hamed/AFP via Getty Images)

US Progressives Express Solidarity With Iranian Protesters After Death of Mahsa Amini

"The right to choose belongs to us all, from hijabs to reproductive care," said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Julia Conley

Progressive U.S. lawmakers on Friday expressed solidarity with anti-government protesters that have spread to cities across Iran as people express outrage over the death of a 22-year-old woman who was in police custody after being accused of violating the country's strict dress code.

"The Iranian people, led by young women, are demonstrating for their freedom and for a better life."

As authorities have cracked down on the protests, which are now taking place in more than five dozen cities, more than 30 people have reportedly been killed and hundreds have been injured or arrested.

The protests erupted this past week after the death of Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish Iranian woman, on September 16. Amini had been in a coma for three days following her arrest in Tehran by the country's so-called "morality police." She had been accused of wearing an "improper" head covering.

A photo of Amini in a coma sparked outrage when it was circulated on social media. Her family has accused police of beating Amini, rejecting a police report that she suffered a heart attack while in custody.

Protests condemning Amini's death have included women tearing off and burning their hijabs, which is punishable by arrest and fines, while men have cheered them on.

Since the demonstrations began, participants have also decried the country's struggling economy. Iran's economy has been severely weakened by sanctions imposed by the U.S. and other countries in the Global North.

U.S. anti-war group CodePink noted that U.S. sanctions on Iran's internet services have for years endangered and violated the rights of Iranians by forcing them to rely on "state-run services which are easily monitored, censored, and blacked out."

The group applauded the U.S. State Department's decision to relax the internet sanctions, noting that Iranian-American campaigners have consistently put pressure on the U.S. government to do so.

"Let's hope the protests in Iran against the death of Mahsa Amini force the Iranian government to disband the 'morality police' and let women dress the way they want to," CodePink co-founder Medea Benjamin added on Twitter.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) applauded Iranian women for leading the demonstrations and condemned reports that government forces have "responded by killing dozens of protesters."

"Solidarity with the courageous women and allies in Iran protesting for their freedom," Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) tweeted, noting that all people must have the right to full bodily autonomy, including their choice of what to wear as well as the reproductive care they receive.

"I stand in solidarity with the Iran protests as they fight for a woman's right to bodily autonomy and against police brutality," added Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.).

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