Nearly 40 protesters gathered at the corner of La Jolla Village Drive and Torrey Pines last Thursday, in solidarity against a potential war in Iran. Demonstrators held signs and chanted as passing cars honked in support of the protest.
Fred Schultz, a local attorney and 2020 presidential candidate, organized the rally as a part of the progressive political advocacy group MoveOn’s rapid response team. He said the location was chosen so that UC San Diego students could be a part of the demonstration despite their busy student life. Schultz said that a potential war could affect students the most, should there be a war draft.
Schutlz also shared his distrust of U.S. President Donald Trump, saying that Trump is not being rational and is instead searching for any excuse to go to war with Iran.
Tension between the United States and Iran have grown increasingly tense since the Trump administration withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal and a U.S. airstrike killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani on January 3. The Trump administration said that eliminating Soleimani will minimize active plotting against American lives.
On January 5, the Iranian government responded to the airstrike o by stating they will no longer abide by the nuclear deal’s restrictions. Three days later, Iran launched multiple ballistics missiles on two bases in Iraq where American soldiers were stationed. According to the Associated Press, there have been no reports of casualties.
Hours after the missile strike, the Iranian military mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet. Three days later, the Iranian government admitted to shooting down the jet, citing human error. This sparked a new wave of anti-government protests throughout Iran.
According to The New York Times, Iranian security forces used tear gas, rubber bullets, and live ammunition to disperse demonstrators in Tehran. The Iranian government responded to the previous wave of mass protests late last year by shutting down internet access and deploying security forces. Amnesty International reported that there were at least 208 unlawful killings in response to the demonstrations last year.
Jasmina Aliakbar is a Political Science student who said she felt obligated to attend the rally as an Iranian American. She hopes the rally will encourage others to learn more about what is happening in the Middle East.
“There is a lot of geopolitical misunderstandings,” said Aliakbar. “While this isn’t going to immediately fix it, it will at least prompt others to educate themselves.”
Aliakbar also said it is increasingly difficult for students to keep up with their classes while simultaneously ignoring increasing global instability, such as the conflict with Iran, and mentioned the emotional toll it takes.
“This is an emotional time with bad stuff happening and we [students] are expected to just switch off and learn,” said Aliakbar.