Nov. 28, 2022

SAPL exhibition details Iranian struggle for freedom and equality

Guest speaker and exhibition curated by Iranian students showcase sacrifice and role of art in fight for freedom
Iran protest October 15, 2022 - Sherman Oaks, CA
Iran protest Oct, 15, 2022 in Los Angeles, Calif., USA. Craig Melville on Unsplash

For the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape’s Iranian student population, the atrocities and repression that have gripped their homeland are not dampened by distance.

Through the sting of seeing their country in turmoil, and their intimate understanding of a situation decades in the making, Iranian students at the University of Calgary design school will mount an exhibition detailing the history, the violence and the personal toll that has been exacted on innocent women and protesters, as they struggle for equality and their basic human rights.

#Woman_Life_Freedom is “about the 43 years of women and men, old and young, fighting for human rights and their dreams in Iran,” reads a statement issued by SAPL’s Iranian student community, the members of which have asked to remain anonymous due to the potential threat their actions may pose to friends and family back in Iran, in the form of government retribution.

"The exhibit features the work of Iranian SAPL students curating a timeline of brave examples of Iranian people through history, ending with what is currently going on right now, and how people are fighting for their dreams and rights on the streets and in the media."

#Woman_Life_Freedom will showcase photographs, testimonials, as well as an interactive, multimedia exhibit.

Iran event

According to the statement, this is a way for the students to show, and muster, solidarity for the current plight of Iranian protesters, a plight that has violently intensified since its emergence following the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini.

Amini’s death on Sept. 16 came at the hands of Iran’s morality police after she was arrested and beaten for allegedly defying strict rules for women to dress modestly while out in public. The event immediately sparked protests that have seen the Iranian population rise up in defiance and demand change to the autocratic regime.

In the process, authorities have retaliated and as many as 434 protesters have been killed — at least 58 of those were children. The crackdown by Iranian forces has also resulted in more than 17,000 arrests.

The international community, including the United Nations, the European Union, and even the one of the world’s leading academic journals, BMJ, have strongly condemned the Iranian government’s crackdown.

We would like to invite all the brave social justice advocates across Canada to join us in standing in solidarity with the women, students, and activists of Iran who are fighting empty-handed for their basic human rights,” the statement reads.

When we stand up for one another in times of injustice, we stop normalizing human rights violations.

"Let’s break the norm together! Let's make it odd and uncomfortable to hear that someone is killed because of their gender, ethnicity, and nationality. Let’s not normalize this brutality of one regime against its own people.

“Let’s stand up and use our voices.”

The exhibition will run in the Stantec Gallery on the second floor of the Professional Faculties Building from Nov. 28 to Dec. 23, and will be open for general public viewing Mondays to Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The gallery opening for #Woman_Life_Freedom will host a presentation by SAPL’s Iranian student community and will feature a presentation by a Mount Royal University expert. Her talk will explore the historical context of Iran’s current plight, as well as dive deeply into the country’s current social and political pressures and reality.

The opening will be held in Room 2160 in the Professional Faculties Building on Nov. 28, from 6 to 7 p.m. 

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