Kelowna’s Ukrainian and Iranian communities joined forces to show where they stand when it comes to the hardships going on in those countries, through a ‘Human Rights Drive’ Saturday afternoon.
The movement was prompted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began back in February, as well as the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after she was detained by Iran’s morality police for wearing her hijab too loosely, two months ago.
“There is no internet, no free media in Iran and we can be the voice for those who have no voice, this is everyone’s responsibility as a global citizen to stand for those who don’t have a voice and choice,” said Ray Taheri, Event Co-Organizer and Professor at University of British Columbia Okanagan.
Iran’s foreign minister, Hossein Amirabdollahian, on Saturday acknowledged for the first time that his country has supplied Russia with drones, insisting the transfer came before Moscow’s war on Ukraine that has seen the Iranian-made drones divebombing Kyiv.
The move by Iran left the Ukrainian and Iranian communities connected.
“The idea is we have a common enemy, the Iranian regime that oppresses Iranian people and supplies weapons and drones to Russia, and those drones are used to destroy Ukrainian infrastructure now and kill Ukrainian people,” said Denys Storozhuk, President of the Kelowna Stands with Ukraine group.
The parade of vehicles made its way from UBCO to Westbank and then looped back to the university donning their flags as a way to gain public attention to keep the conversation going.
“Everyone who has a heart for freedom, liberty and human rights should take part in this very profound drive,” said Taheri.
With Iranian authorities waging a deadly crackdown to put an end to the unrest from protests following Mahsa Amini’s death, some Canadian-Iranians fear for the safety of their loved ones who live back home.
“It’s so hard because all of my family and most of my friends still live back there – thinking about that, they’re not safe, they may be killed if they raise their voice or try to amplify their voice, they may be killed for that or put into prison,” said Iranian Student, Negar Yassaie.
Both the Iranian and Ukrainian communities plan to continue efforts to be a voice for their countries until they see change.