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SPSSI Stands in Solidarity with the Women and People of Iran in Their Movement for Justice, Equality, and Basic Human Rights

This statement was approved by SPSSI’s Executive Committee on October 17, 2022.

Thank you to SPSSI member Dr. Mehrgol Tiv and SPSSI Policy Committee Co-chair Dr. Roxanne Moadel-Attie for drafting this statement.

The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI) stands in solidarity with the women and all people of Iran in their movement for justice, equality, and basic human rights.

This current movement was sparked on September 17, 2022, when a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman named Mahsa (Jhina) Amini was murdered in the custody of the morality police. She had been arrested for wearing the forced hijab incorrectly. More than four weeks of sustained protests across the country have widened the focus from the Islamic Republic’s (IR) strict dress code to broader anti-regime calls for women’s liberation, freedom of expression, and rights to bodily autonomy. These are universal principles of dignity endowed to all people, regardless of place, by the United Nations 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

SPSSI, a membership association of psychologists and other social scientists who share a common interest in research on the psychological aspects of important social and policy issues, has been represented as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) at the United Nations since 1987. SPSSI’s leadership condemns any violent actions taken against the people of Iran, as they peacefully pursue their fundamental rights.

SPSSI is particularly concerned by the brutal attacks on students and scholars across university and school campuses in Iran, including one perpetuated on October 2 at Sharif University, an internationally renowned institution in Tehran. As a society of students and scholars, we stand in support of students’ rights to a safe, open, and respectful learning environment.

SPSSI recognizes that women, youth, and students are at the forefront of this movement in Iran, which bears relevance to psychological research on group identity, collective power, and intergenerational experiences. This movement also speaks to the psychology of how grassroots movements occur, the role of social media in mobilizing individuals and groups, and the social, emotional, and health impacts of enduring conflict.

It is critical to note the intersectional nature of this wave of protests in Iran, as the face of this movement, Mahsa Amini, born Jhina Amini, originated from a marginalized Kurdish minority within the IR. The recognizable chant of this movement, “Jin, Jîyan, Azadî” (Kurdish), “Zan, Zendegi, Azadi” (Farsi), “Woman, Life, Freedom” originated decades ago in the Kurdish movement for independence and was refrained across Iran following the death of Mahsa. Since then, the Kurdish regions of northwestern Iran, such as Sanandaj, have been disproportionately targeted by the IR’s violent crackdown. These facts are a real-world reflection of the robust psychological scholarship on the role of intersecting identities that many SPSSI members contribute to.

SPSSI stands with the Iranian people fighting for their individual freedoms, as well as with the Iranian members of our academic and psychological community in the diaspora who are in need of emotional support through this time. We encourage the psychological community to come together in support of the Iranian people by listening to their messages of hope, amplifying their voices for justice, and honoring their stories of bravery. 

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