Jakarta – As many as 200 Jakarta residents, including the Iranian diaspora, demonstrated in front of the Iranian Embassy in Jakarta on October 18. They were demanding a transparent and fair investigation into the deaths of scores of women and children in Teheran and other Iranian cities.
In addition to this, they also demanded an end to regulations obliging women to wear the hijab (Islamic headdress) which they said are unjust.
"We are concerned about the fate of Iranian women. They experience unjust treatment, violence and even murder, simply because of the clothing regulated by the state. They are fighting for their rights as human beings and reject regulations enforcing the hijab", said Association for Safeguarding the Emerald of the Equator Pancasila (Galaruwa) Chairperson Santiamer Haloho.
"We are urging the government of the Iranian Islamic Republic to conduct another investigation that is independent by methods which are transparent and fair in order to find the real cause of Mahsa Amini's death", said Haloho.
Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish Iranian woman, was arrested in Teheran on September 13 for wearing clothing deemed to be inappropriate. She died three days later.
Public anger over Amini's death triggered protests in more than 90 cities in Iran over the last three weeks. #IranProtest involved hundreds of thousands of people who rallied under the slogan "Women, Life, Freedom".
Rallying around the hashtag #HairforFreedom, hundreds of Iranian women also burn their hijabs in protest over the regulations on women's clothing which became criminal law in Iran in 1983.
Several of the protests were confronted by security operations that ended in rioting resulting in the death of at least 185 people and the arrest of thousands of others.
This included at least 28 journalists including Niloofar Hamedi, the first journalist to visit the Sakit Kasra Hospital and write a report on and take pictures of Amini's parents. Hamedi was arrested by Iranian intelligence officers on September 22.
The peaceful action at the Iranian Embassy was supported by several organisations including Galaruwa, Indonesia Awakening/Three Pillars, the United Betawi Forum, the Concern for the Nation People's Movement, the Nusantara Dai Forum, the National Dayak Traditional Community Brigade, the Iranian diaspora and Hazara refugees from Afghanistan in Indonesia.
Action coordinator Ririn Sefsani called on the Indonesian government to speak out and urge Iran to stop all forms of violence against its citizens who are currently fighting for their rights such as arrests, assaults and shootings.
Indonesia should provide an example of women being given the right to choose their own clothing. Iran should also respect the rights of women and children and not instead deprive them of their rights in the name of religion.
"These are the initial steps which would end discrimination against women in Iran. The hijab must be a choice not an obligation if Iran wants to be just and is ready to be a country which holds human rights in the highest regard", said Sefsani.
Since 1983 Iran has included a number of articles in its laws requiring women and girls over seven years old to wear a hijab. The punishment for violating the hijab rules range from counseling to one-an-a-half years in prison.
Women are also not allowed to attend school, work or enter government offices without a hijab.
But there have been several women who have given longer prison terms after being charged under multiple articles. In 2019 an Iranian lawyer, Nasrin Stetimeh, who was defending women who had protested against the hijab obligations, was imprisoned for 38 years under multiple articles.
The demonstrators in front of the Iranian Embassy also demanded that Iran immediately release all journalists and peaceful demonstrators who are currently being detained in scores of Iranian cities.
"Iran should release Niloofar Hamedi and other journalists. Journalists in Indonesia will protest Iran for as long as Hamedi and others are still being detained. Any country, including Iran, will find it difficult to develop if press freedom is curbed and journalists imprisoned", said a journalist and one of the founders of the Independent Journalist Alliance (AJI), Andreas Harsono.
Meidiana Fauzia Datuk from the United Betawi Forum said that the peaceful action at the Embassy was held to express their solidarity with the people, women and children of Iran.
She said that this is not just a problem of the hijab but the essence of humanity which opposes all forms of human rights violations.
She also invited the people of Indonesia and the world to unite in support of the Iranian people's struggle to create a country which is democratic and holds human rights in the highest regard.
"The outbreak of demonstrations in all corners of Iran should be an alarm call for the Iranian regime to stop defending an authoritarian administration", said Datuk.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Solidaritas Dengan Situasi di Iran, Ratusan Warga Demo Kedutaan Besar".]