Our Mass Communications graduate students are taking a self-taught crash course in organizing as they feverishly work to host a candlelight vigil/rally Wednesday (Nov. 12) for their fellow classmate, Esha Momeni, still imprisoned in Iran for working on her master’s thesis about Iranian women.
It’s Saul Alinsky meets social networking as they combine traditional grass-roots techniques (tabling, handing out fliers, etc.) with new media distribution and production capabilities (MySpace, YouTube, etc.)
They’ve spent nearly every hour this past week raising awareness on our campus as well as at UCLA, Cal State LA, Santa Monica College, Pierce College, Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Long Beach, and others. Even the quietest students have jumped into this effort, finding a voice they may not have known they have.
Local merchants have donated copying (40,000 fliers!) and offered reduced rates for printing the Free Esha posters (500) now dotting our campus and nearby businesses (some students are riding around with the posters in their car windows). Faculty have contributed cash, expertise and moral support; some have squeezed their middle-aged selves into the highly sought after “Please Free Esha” T-shirts, which were also donated by a local business owner. 2,000 Please Free Esha stickers will soon flood the campus.
However dark these last three weeks have been, as our student and friend remains jailed in Tehran, they have not been weeks without meaning. Our students have come together in ways they never have before, taking on new responsibilities and combining their creative and analytical skills in ways none of us would ever have imagined would be necessary. And we have all come to appreciate the depth of the obstacles to understanding between two very different cultures that Esha so much wanted us all to overcome.
Things you can do to help:
- Please come to the vigil, 4:30 p.m. Wednesday Nov. 12 at the steps of Oviatt Library, CSUN. (University press release.) See the Please Free Esha MySpace page for the latest info on the vigil. Print your own vigil flier.
- Sign the online petition asking for her release
- Read the words of her friends and get news translated from Farsi at For Esha.
- Write a letter asking the Iranian government to free Esha. Based on Amnesty International’s recommendations, consider the following text:
I am concerned with the arrest of Esha Momeni, and urge you to treat her humanely in detention, and protect her from torture or other ill-treatment. Please provide her with immediate and regular access to her family, her lawyer and any medical treatment she may require. Her arrest was in connection with her peaceful activities in support of equal rights for women in Iran and in the context of her graduate research.
Leader of the Islamic Republic, His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei, The Office of the Supreme Leader, Shoahada Street, Qom, Islamic Republic of Iran, Faxes: + 98.21.649.5880 / 21.774.2228, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
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