Home / News / World /  Lord of the Rings actor, activist Nazanin Boniadi speaks on rights of women in Iran

Lord of the Rings actor, activist Nazanin Boniadi speaks on rights of women in Iran

FILE PHOTO: Actor Nazanin Boniadi addresses demonstrators at a Freedom Rally for Iran, protesting in support of Iranian women and against the death of Mahsa (Zhina) Amini, outside City Hall in Los Angeles, California (Image: Reuters)Premium
FILE PHOTO: Actor Nazanin Boniadi addresses demonstrators at a Freedom Rally for Iran, protesting in support of Iranian women and against the death of Mahsa (Zhina) Amini, outside City Hall in Los Angeles, California (Image: Reuters)

  • Mahsa Amini died on September 16, three days after she was hospitalised following her arrest by the morality police, a unit responsible for enforcing the Islamic republic's strict dress code for women.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power actress and activist Nazanin Boniadi has said that more needs to be done to protect the rights of women in Iran amid the ongoing security forces crack down on protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody.

Mahsa Amini died on September 16, three days after she was hospitalised following her arrest by the morality police, a unit responsible for enforcing the Islamic republic's strict dress code for women.

The death of Mahsa has since then sparked outrage and has seen women coming on the streets to burn their 'hijab' (headscarf). Some have also posted videos on social media of cutting their hair.

Iran's clerical rulers fear a revival of the protests that erupted in 2019 over gasoline price rises, the bloodiest in the Islamic Republic's history. As per Reuters, 1,500 people were killed then. 

The current protests have embroiled dozens of cities across the country and evolved into the most widespread challenge to Iran’s leadership in years. A series of festering crises have helped fuel public rage, including the country's political repression, ailing economy and global isolation. According to rights groups, Security forces have been leading a crackdown on the protests, with thousands arrested, hundreds injured, and over 100 killed. 

Speaking to Reuters in Los Angeles, she said Amini's death has struck a chord internationally and she called on world leaders to do more to hold Iranian authorities accountable.

"I think the death or the killing of Mahsa Amini in custody in Iran has struck at the core of everything we feel about our rights being taken away from us, how fragile our freedoms can be," Boniadi said.

"So it's hit a chord ... in the global zeitgeist of people feeling like they can relate to what it feels like to have your rights taken away from you. And particularly, I think, women's rights," she further added.

The star of Amazon's "Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power", who fled Tehran with her family when she was just 20 days old, has been a prominent voice in the anti-regime campaign since Amini's death.

On Saturday, Boniadi led a protest in Los Angeles against the Iranian government, with organisers saying 20,000 people turned up to show their support. There have been similar protests across Europe and in Canada, in solidarity with the women making a stand in Tehran and elsewhere in Iran.

"Here you have these women who are on the front lines, and they are likely to get beaten at the very least, if not killed and imprisoned. And yet they're doing it anyway," said Boniadi, visibly emotional.

"They're fighting with all they have. The problem is that we need to stand by them... Every country, every member state of the U.N. needs to actively work towards creating this international mechanism for accountability on Iran."

Iranian authorities have insisted Amini died from a sudden heart failure, possibly from pre-existing conditions. Her family has denied she had any previous health issues.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi appealed for national unity and tried to allay anger against the country’s rulers, even as the anti-government protests that have engulfed the country for weeks continued to spread to universities and high schools.

Raisi acknowledged that the Islamic Republic had “weaknesses and shortcomings," but repeated the official line that the unrest sparked last month by the death of a woman in the custody of the country’s morality police was nothing short of a plot by Iran’s enemies.

“Today the country’s determination is aimed at cooperation to reduce people’s problems," he told a parliament session. “Unity and national integrity are necessities that render our enemy hopeless."

(With inputs from Reuters)

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