Public Comment on Mahsa Amini Commemoration Resolution and Presentation, September 18, 2023 West Hollywood Council Meeting.

Good Evening Mayor Shyne and members of the West Hollywood City Council, Mayor Shyne, thank you for leading the commemoration of the one-year anniversary of the passing of Mahsa Amini. You are a true leader and a shining model in our community. My name is Sunny Zia and I have the privilege of being a three-time elected Trustee at the Long Beach Community College District Board of Trustees, District 3 representing 104,000 residents. I am a proud Iranian American who fled a war-torn Iran in my early childhood seeking refuge with my family in the U.S. I subsequently had the honor of living in Iran for high school and college between 1991-1999.
In my junior year in high school, similar to Mahsa Amini, the symbol for women’s rights, life and freedom, my friend a 16-year-old Bahareh Vojdani was killed at the hands of this regime because she wasn’t wearing a piece of cloth on her head properly. And during my last hours in Iran in 1999, I witnessed my classmates be beaten to death and imprisoned because they stood up for secular freedom. Leaving with a broken heart I vowed to those I left that I would make sure their cry for freedom is heard in every interaction I have upon my return to the U.S. It is hard to express the profundity and depth of anguish and pain I saw in Iran. A country that went from a bounty of secular freedom to one ruled by the tyrannical hands of clerics that conflated church and state and ruling over women’s bodies, attire, agency, and individual liberty. The people of Iran never imagined this darkness 44 years ago. Before they knew it, they were left with moral police and assassins targeting them, the women and children who rose up for freedom.

The passing of Mahsa Amini hallmarks the women life freedom movement led by the heroic women of Iran, fighting for freedom and basic human rights. They together with their brave male counterparts have been united in fighting with their voices, civil disobedience and lives to gain secular freedom. Audrey Hepburn once said humanitarian means human welfare, and responding to human suffering and finally that’s what politics should be. That is why I got in this arena of public office and public service, to respond to human suffering. These brave Iranians fighting for freedom in the past year, are true inspirations of peaceful civil disobedience, integrity, fidelity and bravery.

We will not only hope and pray but will fight with them and for them in the diaspora. Over 3,000 people are currently imprisoned and being physically and psychologically tortured among all the countless innocent lives lost. A protest or a resolution of solidarity may not change the world but it adds its fraction to the odds of change. There is value in a single step towards justice and one step leads to another. Thank you for adding to the increments of change and justice by this resolution today and showing that the people of Iran that they matter and are not forgotten. And that they will interminably be imprinted in our minds, hearts and history as those who fought for women, life and freedom. As a Jewish member of the Persian community, we have welcomed a new year, 5784. May this year bring the beautiful people of Iran freedom at last, may they be free from suffering and finally this year and in our lifetime secure the blessings of liberty to themselves and their posterity. May we live to see the day where women no longer have to fight over their choice over their bodies and may we see justice finally prevail.

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