Monday, June 5Welcome

On Roosevelt Island, ‘Eyes on Iran’ Focuses on Political Protests

Joining artists, activists and diplomats on Roosevelt Island on a windy late November morning, I listen to former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton talk about receiving an anonymous phone call. voice of america, during the 1995 World Conference on Women in Beijing. The call was from an Iranian man asking him to explain what she meant when she said “women’s rights are human rights.”

“I suggested that he close his eyes and imagine that he was enjoying the same rights as men in Iran,” Clinton recalled. “He was silent, as if he found the idea confusing.”

Nearly 30 years later, Iran today is in the midst of a feminist revolution led by women. Widespread protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman who was arrested on the streets of Tehran on Sept. 13 by “morality police”. She was taken into police custody three days later, sparking a long-simmering frustration among Iranian society, especially women and young people. The government’s response was brutal, with an estimated 18,000 protesters arrested and more than 400 killed. But the protests, which last week escalated into strikes by sympathetic shopkeepers in major cities, show no signs of abating.

That chilly morning, we gathered on Roosevelt Island to celebrate the opening of “Eyes on Iran,” a timely and compelling art exhibition by Iranian Americans and Iranian artists in exile. Hosted by the artist/activist collective For Freedoms, in collaboration with Vital Voices (an NGO focused on women’s leadership) and the Loose Coalition of Iranian Women, the work will be installed at Franklin D. Roosevelt for Freedom State Park in the East. is installed. Rivers from and directly facing the United Nations.

Tomorrow, the United Nations will vote on a US-led resolution to expel the Islamic Republic of Iran from the 45-member Commission on the Status of Women. (A petition to support this action can be read and signed here.) But beyond that immediate purpose, the urgent goal of these artists of the Iranian diaspora is To draw international attention to the unfolding humanitarian crisis.

Z. Balayet2022

Photo: Austin Paz / Courtesy of For Freedoms

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