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Protesters Gather In West Hollywood To Remember Life of 22-Year Old Iranian Woman Who Died In Detention

A very large group of protesters are walking down a city street. Many wear face masks. At the center of the photograph, a woman holds up a color picture of Mahsa Amini, a young Iranian woman wearing a black head scarf that partially covers her hear, a wristwatch and a black loose button-down shirt. In the picture, Amini is smiling with her mouth closed and gazing to the left.
A protester holds a portrait of Mahsa Amini during a Sept. 20 demonstration in Istanbul.
(Ozan Kose
/
AFP via Getty Images)
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Protests have been ongoing in Iran since news broke two weeks ago of the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who died shortly after being taken into custody by the country's notorious "morality police."

Her death has hit Los Angeles' large Iranian community hard.

"The past two weeks, it's been an incredibly emotional and traumatic time for all of us," said Tawny Mazarei, board president of the Iranian American Women's Foundation.

"Just to watch what happened to Mahsa — and also what is happening to so many other women who are standing up for their rights for what happened to Mahsa — and the turmoil that the country is going through. It's been an incredibly emotional experience," Mazarei said.

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Iranian security forces have killed at least 50 protesters and arrested 700 during demonstrations over Amini's death, according to the New York Times.

The men who detained Amini claimed she was not wearing her headscarf properly.

According to witnesses, Amini was beaten by police following her arrest. The police have denied any wrongdoing, and say she died of a heart attack.

Vigil In LA

Protests against what many believe to be Iran's oppressive laws for women have now spread across the globe.

A candlelight vigil was held in West Hollywood Park in Amini's honor. The vigil will began at 5:30 p.m. and was livestreamed on Instagram. At the event, Sepi Shyne, the first speaker at the vigil and mayor pro tempore of West Hollywood, spoke of her own background, noting the Iranian Revolution took place when she was two years old and they fled to the U.S. when she was five.

"I am a proud Iranian woman, a Muslim and a lesbian," Shyne told those gathered. "If we had not escaped Iran I would be killed for being a strong outspoken woman, for being a lesbian and for refusing to be anyone else but me."

In an interview prior to the vigil, Mazarei called what happened to Amini "inexplicable ... unfathomable."

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She added: "That a 22-year-old young woman, a perfectly healthy young woman gets beaten up so badly that she spends three days in a coma and then passes away, and all of this for not covering every single strand of hair on her head ... Enough is enough, is what people are saying in Iran."

Mazarei called Amini's death "an ultimate example of the persecution of women's rights."

She expressed hope the vigil and other remembrances add to growing outrage that she's hearing from people in Iran.

Mazarei noted that there have been a number of uprisings in recent years against the government, "but there is a different tone and mood with this uprising."

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Updated September 30, 2022 at 7:15 AM PDT
This story updated with a quote from the vigil.