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Law student decries Iranian regime in op-ed

The author, Mahsa Monshizadegan, called on officials to help defend human rights in her home nation and surrounding countries.|Photo courtesy of Mahsa Monshizadegan

A UH law student was recently recognized in a student spotlight for her op-ed article, “We Must Fight for Human Rights in Iran,” published in the Austin Chronicle. 

The author, Mahsa Monshizadegan, called on officials to help defend human rights in her home nation and surrounding countries. As an Iranian American immigrant, she always had a passion for studying law and amplifying the voices of people who could not speak on their own behalf. 

“It has always been my passion to do something for people who cannot speak up for themselves. Because living in an oppressed country, you grew up with all the adults around you doing things hiddenly; they’re always scared to be caught by the government and by the rules,” Monshizadegan said. 

Monshizadegan has lived in Houston for over a decade. She was born and raised in Iran and moved to the U.S. in 2013 at age 24. She moved alone, leaving her family behind because she disagreed with the cultural differences from her native home. 

“There’s a lot of issues and obstacles for women living there, and my mentality was not in the same line with all the rules, regulations and oppression that was going on,” Monshizadegan said. 

She graduated from the Marilyn Davies College of Business at UH Downtown, where she received her bachelor’s in international business. Now she’s in her second year of law school at UH. 

In September of 2022, when 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in custody after being captured by the morality police in the capital city of Tehran for allegedly showing her hair and violating Iranian laws requiring women to wear headscarves which sparked worldwide protests, is what influenced Monshizadegan to speak up. 

“Seeing what’s going on in my country just creates more concern for me because I have all my family and relatives living there. And it concerns me,” Monshizadegan said. “What’s going on to a girl like Mahsa Amini could have happened to my sister, my brother or my cousin.” 

She said the Iranian people have been suffering for over 40 years ever since the Islamic Republic assumed power in 1979. 

It was associate professor of Law Zachary D. Kaufman, who influenced her to write the op-ed article to gain the attention of state lawmakers, she said.  

“I wanted this to be something that people who come across the op-ed, they understand what’s going on in Iran. And also, a way for me to address senators in the state of Texas, that this is time for you to show how much in a democracy you believe in,” Monshizadegan said. 

Monshizadegan said this is a new revolution, and Iranians believe the government is done. It is only a matter of time before leaders begin to flee the country or are captured by the people.  

Now, she is working on future articles and looking to get into public speaking to share her story. In the hope of spreading awareness of the issues affecting Iran. 

Although the conflict isn’t on U.S. soil, these are still our brothers and sisters being oppressed, and we should all be invested in this, she said. 

“This is not the issue of one country. This is the issue of human rights.” Monshizadegan said. “You’re not only a citizen of your country, but you’re also a citizen of the world. And what’s going on in another state, country and place matters. It matters and impacts your life too. Maybe not now, but definitely in the future.”

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