BY ANDREA GOODWIN
Hundreds of local Iranians and Americans of Iranian descent showed their support for friends and family still in Iran on Thursday and Friday with peaceful rallies. Groups of Assyrians born in both Iran and the United States gathered on the corner of Countryside Drive and Monte Vista Avenue with signs, banners, face-paint, and flags.
The group chanted slogans and phrases and waved at passing vehicles. Many passing drivers honked and shouted in support of the demonstrators. On Thursday the group started with chants of “natarsin natarsin ma hame ba ham hastim,” which translates to “don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid, we are all together.”
The Friday evening protest drew a much larger crowd. The small plaza on the corner of Countryside and Monte Vista was full of demonstrators and on-lookers.
Most people at the rally agreed that they were not just protesting the results of the Iranian presidential election. They were there to protest the treatment of Iranians who chose to speak out.
“This isn’t about the results of the election anymore. This is a human rights issue,” said Pedram Vaezi, a local chiropractor who attended the Friday rally.
Vaezi said that the event was organized by students who wanted their voices heard. He said they hope that if enough people come out consistently to protest the violence in Iran, European and other countries might take notice and decide to intervene.
The general atmosphere of the Thursday rally was not angry. Demonstrators were thankful that they were able to publicly protest the government of Iran without fear of punishment.
“People over there are getting killed for the same thing that we are doing here,” said one young man in the crowd.
Vaezi said that the younger people in the crowd were looking for a total change of power in Iran. Demonstrators in the crowd chanted “Democracy for Iran, Freedom for everyone.”
Many of the demonstrators said they had emigrated from Iran in the last 30 years. They have personal connections with the violence in Iran because they know people who still live there.
“We wanted to show our support for family and friends in Iran. We hope that they keep fighting,” said Shanin, a demonstrator at the rally.
Some younger demonstrators wore scarves and bandanas over their faces. They said they wanted to return to Iran some day and they did not want to be recognized. Others painted their faces and hands green, white, and red, the colors of the old Iranian flag. The use of the flag was itself a form of protest, the flag has not officially been used by Iran since 1980.
The demonstrators ranged from teenagers who drove by waving flags out of car windows, to older men who sat in the shade and watched the commotion.
Bernadet Moushel brought her two young children to the demonstration, their faces pained in the colors of the old Iranian flag.
“We can’t just sit and see that our people are being killed in another country,” Moushel said.