Jina “Mahsa” Amini: Audio in Liberation  Movements


FRQNCY Media has always been an advocate for the power of audio and its ability to heal, uplift, and enlighten our world. In keeping with this, we are using our platform to uplift voices from Iran and Kurdistan, where everyday people are currently fighting for freedom and justice for Jina “Mahsa” Amini and liberation from oppression. 

We stand in solidarity with the people of Iran and all other human rights worldwide under attack. We offer our platform to amplify their voices with audio.

Who is Jina?

Protests have erupted in Iran and across the globe following the death of Jina “Mahsa” Amini. Amini is a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman who died on September 16 after being arrested and beaten to death by the Iranian “morality police.” Her crime? Not wearing her hijab properly.

The compulsory hijab is one of the many repressive state policies enforced by the Islamic Republic of Iran, a theocratic regime that took hold after the 1979 revolution. The “morality police” is a segment of the police force dedicated to upholding appearance codes like the compulsory hijab. According to a recent episode of Toronto Star’s This Matters, the morality police’s methods are brutal and inhumane, often exerting physical and emotional torture. The violence of the Islamic Republic, however, is not exclusive to women. Queer people, religious minorities, and ethnic minorities are similarly oppressed under this regime. As a Kurdish woman, Jina’s murder is inseparable from her gender and ethnic identity.

Why Is This Important?

Jina’s death has been martyrized as a symbol of all the violence this regime enacts against its people – whether they are women, gay, Kurdish, or Bahai’i. As such, Iranians and Kurds of all walks of life have united, taking to the streets chanting “women, life, freedom,” and “death to the dictator.” Protests span all provinces and major cities in Iran with Gen Z women at the helm. The Islamic Republic has responded to the uprisings with militant violence. As of November 5th, human rights organizations estimate that 304 people have been killed, including children.

“Be Our Voice”: Censorship and Internet Shutdown

Amidst civil unrest, the Iranian government has censored all social media outlets, including the Apple App Store, restricting people’s ability to access VPNs. Beyond social media censorship, the government also has shut-down widespread internet access for periods of time. 

In response, the Iranian people have posed a directive to the international community: “Be our voice.”

The need for directives is urgent and evident in the behavior of platforms. For instance, many media outlets have accused Meta of deleting protest content. Meta denied all accusations. However, this is not the first time that there have been allegations of Meta playing a role in the censorship of civil unrest. Most recently, Iran’s Telecommunications Minister, Isa Zarepour, stated efforts are being made to criminalize the use and sale of VPNs.

In a movement where speaking out against injustice costs the price of life, censorship becomes one of the many weapons used to kill voices. However, audio has a powerful role to play in fighting this injustice. 

The Power of Audio & Transnational Solidarity

Audio demonstrates how sound waves have ripples that impact the world. Though we speak with different tongues, we all recognize the language of the heart. When translation fails us, the emotion embedded into voices, tone, and timbre tells us all we need to know. While the Iranian government attempts to suffocate Iranian voices, the international community stands by Iranians, sharing audiograms, messages, videos, chants, and more. 

Shervin Hajipour’s “Baraye” converted tweets on Twitter from Iranians protesting into a song that reached 40M+ views and was translated into English. The video was removed from Shervin’s social media account, and Shervin was arrested for conspiring against the regime. He has since been released. “Baraye” has since become the unofficial anthem of this movement. Its melody has been carried worldwide, from schoolgirls in Tehran to Iranian-Americans in Los Angeles. Those who stand in solidarity have reposted and shared his song, as their censorship requires online support and solidarity for awareness. 

But this isn’t the first time we’ve seen audio, beyond music, shape social movements and it won’t be the last. Podcasts occupy a unique space in the audiosphere. They serve to offer well-thought-out and researched long-form content to inform the international community on social justice issues. 

The following podcast episodes have also addressed the protests and fight for liberation in Iran: 

Audio is powerful because of its ability to stir emotions and inspire change. It can be easily shared and consumed. We’ve seen how audio has shaped liberation and social justice movements. Digital media is also a tool to amplify oppressed voices audibly. The people in Iran are in dire need of amplifying their plea for support, especially as their government continues to silence them by slowing the internet down to a crawl. Our direct call to action is to share videos and pictures from the people in Iran and listen to the voices speaking out in support of the Iranian people. 

“The visible can establish the distance, the nature, and the source of the voice and thus neutralize it. The acousmatic voice is so powerful because it cannot be neutralized with the framework of the visible, and it makes the visible itself redoubled and enigmatic” 

Mladen Dolar, 2006, A Voice and Nothing More.

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