Message on Unrest in Iran

Published Oct 6

The Offices of International Affairs and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging join the international community in mourning the tragic death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died in police custody after being accused of violating Iran’s strict hijab laws and subsequently arrested.

We extend our support to the university’s Iranian community of students, faculty, and staff. This community – representing Iranian citizens, those with family and friends in the country, and those of Iranian background – enriches and strengthens our university.

According to a report from the United Nations, Amini was taken into custody and beaten by police and then moved to the Vozara Detention Center where she collapsed and fell into a coma. She was transferred to Kasra Hospital where she died on Sept. 17. Though the circumstances of Mahsa Amini’s death are unclear, accounts from her family in Iran summarize that her human rights were violated in her arrest and that excessively violent treatment led to her premature death in police custody

Since the protests began human rights groups estimate more than 150 people have died, including teenager Nika Shakrami, who activists claim was killed in Tehran during the early days of the demonstrations.

DEIB and KUIA believe in the full, fundamental rights of all humans and condemn the use of violence, repression, and discrimination.

We know the ongoing violence and unrest in Iran have caused trauma and distress for members of our community. Restricted social media and internet communication have added additional anxiety and stress for those with family and friends in the region. We ask that the KU community offer understanding and compassion to those affected by this volatile situation.

Last week Iranian students from the KU Medical Center and Lawrence campuses participated in a virtual panel discussion where they shared their concerns and called for community awareness and support. A recording of the discussion is available to the public.

To that end, we want to help facilitate impassioned dialogue around healing and reform that helps facilitate positive conversations about human rights as it pertains to women, girls, the Iranian community and the Iranian diaspora at KU.

Our campus provides mental health services for faculty, staff, and students and encourages anyone feeling distressed to reach out.

We support a prompt, impartial, and effective investigation by an independent competent authority. Amini’s untimely and violent death has sparked protests in solidarity with women’s rights around the world. 

Charles Bankart
Senior Internationalization Officer

Nicole Hodges Persley
Interim Vice Provost for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging

Campus Resources

The following list of resources and opportunities are provided to encourage community conversation surrounding this horrible event

Support Services

student resource coordinator in International Support Services can guide international students toward resources on campus and in the community to support their well-being and success.

Mental health resources include KU Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), as well as My Student Support Program (MY SSP), which connects students with free, confidential mental health and wellbeing support 24 hours a day. MY SSP support is available in multiple languages. Students can also visit with peer educators, who are trained to provide support and resources, through Hope@Caps drop-in listening hours.

As a community member, if you see a student struggling or in need, you can use Student Care Referral to connect support services with individuals who may be having trouble coping with events or life circumstances. In difficult times like these, a community is so much stronger if we support each other through action and extend our grace and compassion.

Cultural Resources

Persian Center. org

The Persian Center creates an environment to conduct various social, cultural, educational, and recreational activities designed to strengthen the sense of integrity of all Iranians and people of Iranian descent to engage individuals with an interest in or relation to the Persian community and culture. The Persian Center encourages and facilitates individual and institutional initiatives that contribute to the advancement of the Persian community.

Persian Heritage Foundation

The Persian Heritage Foundation (PHF), originally called The Yarshater Fund, is a U.S.-registered, non-political, non-governmental organization. PHF aims to support and promote research on all aspects of the Persianate world in the pre-Islamic as well as the Islamic period—a world that is not confined to the present boundaries of Iran, but that extends to Central Asia, the Caucasus, the Indian Subcontinent and, more recently, the wider Iranian diaspora, involving a multitude of languages, religions, and cultures.

Philanthropic Resources

Center for Human Rights in Iran

The Abdorrahman Borouman Center

Amnesty International

Middle East Matters

Some resources have been pulled from humanitarian organizations that are supporting human rights surrounding these challenging civil rights issues. If you know of other resources that would be helpful to our campus community, please feel free to reach out to KUIA and DEIB so we can add them to our list.