Hundreds march in Saskatoon to show solidarity with protesters in Iran

Pooyan Arab, director of Saskatoon Iranian Cultural Association and one of the organizers of the March in Saskatoon, says the worldwide protests put pressure on Iran's regime. (Trevor Bothorel/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Pooyan Arab, director of Saskatoon Iranian Cultural Association and one of the organizers of the March in Saskatoon, says the worldwide protests put pressure on Iran's regime. (Trevor Bothorel/Radio-Canada - image credit)

Hundreds of people in Saskatoon joined other demonstrations around the world to march in solidarity with anti-government protests in Iran.

Pooyan Arab, the director of Saskatoon Iranian Cultural Association and one of the organizers of the March in Saskatoon, said people are fed up with the Iranian regime.

Trevor Bothorel/Radio-Canada
Trevor Bothorel/Radio-Canada

"The sequence of events that has been going on has turned even those who were a bit more cautious with the situation, to voice out their concerns, to be on the streets," Arab said.

"They're tired of just putting up with what is happening in Iran."

Saskatoon's march began at the top of University Bridge and made its way downtown to city hall.

"People are asking for some action and for some change, which is heartwarming for us," Arab said.

Trevor Bothorel/Radio-Canada
Trevor Bothorel/Radio-Canada

Saturday's marches marked more than six weeks of continued protests since 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in Iranian custody after being detained by morality police who took issue with how loosely she was supposedly wearing her hijab.

Police in Iran, who have enforced strict dress codes since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, have said her death was the result of a heart attack.

But many remain adamant Amini was murdered.

A number of city officials, including Mayor Charlie Clark, joined the march in Saskatoon.

"I know that you've been out and standing in solidarity with the people of Iran, with Mahsa Amini, with the very courageous protesters for many weeks and I'm very glad to be able to join with you today," Clark told the crowd.

Trevor Bothorel/Radio-Canada
Trevor Bothorel/Radio-Canada

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke at the protest in Ottawa, telling the crowd he and other Canadians stood with the protesters in Iran.

"They are not forgotten. Their voices are being heard," Trudeau said.

The biggest applause for the prime minister came when he discussed Iranians in Canada "who have benefited from the corrupt, from the horrific regime in Iran," saying "no more" would Canada be a safe haven.

Canada has moved to bar thousands of members of the Iranian regime and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from entering Canada.

The events were organized by the Association of Families of Flight PS752 Victims.

On Jan. 8, 2020, 176 people, including 55 Canadian citizens, were killed when Iran's Revolutionary Guard shot down the Ukrainian airliner.

On Saturday the head of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guards warned protesters it would be their last day of taking to the streets.

Trevor Bothorel/Radio-Canada
Trevor Bothorel/Radio-Canada

Arab said a similar statement was made during  protests a decade ago and it was followed up with a deadly crackdown.

"The next day protesters were shot from the rooftops by snipers," he said. "So we have had this experience before and I'm extremely worried about the turn of events and how this will proceed."

Protests around Amini's death at first focused on the state-mandated hijab, or head scarf for women.

But it quickly grew to call for the downfall of the Iran's theocracy.

Arab said the worldwide protests are meant to highlight what is happening in Iran.

"[It's] putting the spotlight and mounting pressure on the Iranian government to stop killing protesters and I think that attention has a big role to play in achieving that goal."