Yale School of Medicine Members Host Iran Solidarity Meeting

Students and faculty from the Yale School of Medicine watched as hundreds attended a solidarity meeting for the women and men who have lost their lives amid protests and government repression in Iran.

Brian Zhang

04:01, 04 November 2022

Staff reporter

Courtesy of Yale School of Medicine

At ten years old, associate professor of medicine Susan Kashaf cut her hair short and wore boy’s clothes so she could cycle freely through the streets of Iran. However, these little strategies she learned growing up weren’t enough to save her from being chased by the police – and one day, she found herself pedaling for her life.

Kashaf’s story was one of many told at a solidarity meeting Wednesday night at the university’s Anlyan Center auditorium. As protests and bloody government crackdowns ensue in Iran, Kashaf, along with several other members of the School of Medicine, have come forward to urge the Yale community and beyond to stand in solidarity with the millions of women, men and children who cycle for their lives every day.

“We are Iranian-Americans…who have connected over the past month to support each other during these trying times,” Kashaf said, opening the event. “Some of us came from Iran decades ago, others months ago. We are here with you tonight to raise awareness [and] build a community.

The hour-long meeting included speeches, spoken word poetry and multimedia images. Videos and photographs showed Iranian children studying in armed schoolyards – supplementing speakers’ memories of tortured family members, running in zigzag lines to dodge bullets and hoisting a flag made of female hair at a rally in New York to protest grueling hijab regulations.

In a poem read aloud at the meeting, Kashaf’s daughter, Leila Ruser, centralized the uncertainty of finding a home and having nowhere to go. She described the simultaneous pain and freedom of distance and departure from Iran – how, despite being thousands of miles from the focal point of the violence, she and her family yearn to speak for those left behind. trapped.

“His country said goodbye in the form of a gutted stuffed animal on the airport conveyor belt,” Ruser wrote. “6,041 miles of uncut string and 37 years isn’t enough to sew upholstery.”

Three words took center stage at the meeting: “Zan,” which means woman; “Zendegi”, which means life, and “Azadi”, which means freedom and liberty. For the women who spoke at the event, these values, more than the hijab itself, are the driving force behind their relentless drive for change. The conversation should center on the oppression that comes with the application of the hijab, rather than the garment itself, event organizers echoed.

At the front of the Anlyan Auditorium was a table of candles meant to engage the public in this commemoration – the yellow ones representing the adults who lost their lives and the white ones representing the children. Kashaf noted that between the time she ordered the candles and the start of the meeting, that number only increased. She encouraged attendees to take home a candle to honor others.

At the end of the meeting, the organizers opened the floor to public testimonies and statements. There was an option to write comments on a clipboard for those who weren’t comfortable sharing their experiences out loud.

HElia Hosseini YSM ’26, a participant in the meeting, noted that at the heart of the problem is a historical, complex and entrenched oppression of Iranian women. She recalled times when people told her to stop chasing her dreams of becoming an American surgeon, sharing how some of her college professors in Iran even offered a “curve” to those in active relationships with men.

She said she looks forward to the day when Iranians, especially women, will have the opportunity not only to “survive, but also to thrive.”

For some, this meeting is the first step towards creating a more conscious and educated university culture.

Kashaf said she was actively working closely with the University to raise awareness of the Iranian protests and the stories of those involved. She thanked the School of Medicine’s Vice Dean and Diversity Director Darin Latimore for his support of the event and looked forward to a growing circle of solidarity for Iranians.

“I hear my dreams in the songs of Iranian women, men, women and children shouting their hopes in the streets,” said Narges, a speaker at the event who asked to keep her name. anonymous family for security reasons. “I hope for an Iran where justice and freedom are respected… and I dream that my people can live and die with dignity.”

The Anlyan Center is located at 330 Cedar St.


Brian Zhang covered student life for the University office, and previously housing and homelessness for the City office. He is a sophomore at Davenport College.