Edmonton's Iranian community holds vigil for victims of 'Bloody November'

·2 min read

A year after hundreds of people were killed in a deadly clash with the Iranian regime, Edmonton's Iranian community will gather Friday to demonstrate for justice.

"Iranians are totally exhausted and the system is broken, and the main root of the problem is corruption, systemic corruption," said Javad Soleimani, who is helping to organize the rally.

"We want to show those victims' families that they are not alone."

In November 2019, hundreds were killed by security forces in Iran during political protests which swept across the country. Security forces attempted to suppress the unrest with arrests, violence and deadly force.

The nationwide protests in Iran came to be called "Bloody November."

Accurate data is hard to find, but Amnesty International estimates at least 304 men, women and children were killed during the first three days of the uprising.

Reuters reported that as many as 1,500 people died during over two weeks of demonstrations. Thousands more were arrested.

The deadly crackdown was accompanied by the authorities shutting down access to the internet for most of the population.

Disturbances began on Nov. 15 after the government of the Islamic Republic, one of OPEC's biggest oil producers, announced gasoline price hikes. But protests quickly turned political, with demonstrators demanding the removal of top leaders.

Demonstrators took the streets in more than 200 cities, spiralling into violence that saw gas stations, stores and police stations attacked and burned. It was the worst street unrest in Iran in at least a decade and possibly since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Tonight, Iranian-Edmontonians and their allies will gather outside the legislature at 5 p.m. Friday to light candles for the victims.

Someone needs to be held accountable for the violence, Soleimani said. He wants to see other countries crack down on the Iranian regime, and draw attention to the uprisings, an event which he argues failed to get the international attention it deserved.

"At least 1,500 people were murdered. ... Can you imagine?

"It's terrible, so terrible and you know human rights is not a domestic issue, human rights is an international issue."

Soleimani's wife, Elnaz Nabiy, was one of the victims of Flight PS752. Worried for her family after the uprisings, she had returned to Iran to visit her parents over the Christmas holidays.

She was on the flight home to Edmonton when the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps shot down the Ukraine International Airlines flight shortly after takeoff in Tehran, killing all 176 passengers onboard.

Her death has inspired his activism, Soleimani said. He remembers watching the conflict unfold from afar and feeling terror for his loved ones in Iran.

"It was really terrible. We couldn't even contact our families and my wife was crying, 'They are killing us one by one.'

"Since losing my wife terribly, I now feel it is my responsibility to be the voice for other innocent victims of human rights violations."

Submitted by Mohammad Javad Soleimani Meimandi
Submitted by Mohammad Javad Soleimani Meimandi