Remembering Mahsa Amini, One Year Later | Crooked Media
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September 14, 2023
What A Day
Remembering Mahsa Amini, One Year Later

In This Episode

  • September 16th marks the one year anniversary since the death of Mahsa Amini and the start of a women-led revolution in Iran. The 22-year-old died in custody at the hands of the so-called morality police after allegedly violating the regime’s dress code. Within days, Iranians filled the streets in outrage. We’re joined by Iranian-American journalist Suzanne Kianpour to talk about how Iran has changed one year later.
  • And in headlines: Hunter Biden was charged on three criminal counts in federal court, a Georgia judge ruled that Donald Trump and 16 others will be tried separately from two co-defendants heading to trial next month, and Planned Parenthood in Wisconsin announced that it’ll resume providing abortion services starting on Monday.

 

Show Notes:

 

 

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TRANSCRIPT

 

Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Friday, September 15th. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And I’m Tre’vell Anderson. And this is What a Day. Sean Puff Daddy Combs’ label might be “Bad Boy,” but on our pod, he’s a good guy. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, one of the best guys because he recently said he is giving publishing rights back to artists like Notorious B.I.G.’s Estate, Faith Evans, and the one and only Danity Kane. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: [laughing] Shout out to Danity Kane. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Very important. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Okay. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Very important. [music break]

 

Tre’vell Anderson: On today’s show, President Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, was charged in federal court. Plus, big news from the Badger State. 

 

[clip of Tanya Atkinson] This Monday, September 18th. Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin will resume abortion care at our Water Street Health Center in Milwaukee and in Madison at our Madison East Health Center. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: That is coming up. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: But first, we will spend most of our show today commemorating Mahsa Amini one year later. Tomorrow is the one year anniversary since the 22 year old’s death and the start of a women led revolution in Iran. [clip of chanting and protesters] Mahsa Amini died in custody at the hands of the so-called morality police after allegedly violating the regime’s dress code. Iranian authorities claimed that she died from a heart attack, but her family denied that she had any heart issues and said that she was beaten to death. Within days, Iranians filled the streets in outrage. [clip of people chanting and shouting] It very quickly became clear that this was the most blatant challenge to the Islamic Republic since it took over the country in 1979. After Amini’s death, women took off their headscarves and burned them in public displays to show solidarity. You can hear women doing that in front of a crowd in this clip. [clip of people shouting and yelling and then clapping and cheering] This, of course, was incredibly dangerous and risky for the women of Iran to do, because for four decades the theocratic regime there has enforced strict, strict rules on the country’s population. Women, in particular, must cover their heads with hijabs and only wear loose clothing. They are not allowed to dance or sing in public. They cannot attend men’s sporting events. Living as a woman in Iran under this theocracy means many, many restrictions on your day to day life. But this revolution has changed some of that. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, I remember last fall how the protests grew out of Iran and they spread internationally. You could see so many different images in solidarity and support on social media. People all over the world knew Mahsa Amini’s name, and they chanted– 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Women, life, freedom. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. It’s a rallying cry we still hear now, one year later. I wanted to learn more about how this past year has changed Iran and its people. If you’ve been listening to What a Day for a while, you may remember Suzanne Kianpour, an Iranian-American journalist. She actually joined our show for International Women’s Day earlier this year. She is the creator and host of a BBC program called Women Building Peace. September 16th has been named Mahsa Day. And I talked with her about all of this earlier this week. I started out by asking Suzanne what that first week in Iran right after Mahsa’s death looked like. 

 

Suzanne Kianpour: The first few days looked a lot like the Green revolution of 2009, where we saw protests erupt, protesting political corruption. And that was about the presidential election and the reelection of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was a hardliner. And so that’s what it looked like at first. And I was in New York for the U.N. General Assembly, and I was speaking to a U.S. intelligence official, longtime Iran expert, and they were saying, you know what? We’ve seen this before. We’ve seen protests flare up. 2009 was the biggest one in recent history. But since then there have been others, which included protests about the hijab. And he said these are just going to die down and the regime will crack down on them. And I said, this is different. And this is different because it’s led by the women. But also what was different about it was that this wasn’t a political movement. This was a civil rights movement. It was a civil rights movement led by women and most importantly, supported by men. Some of these videos that were the most shocking were of women walking down the street, not covering their hair, not covering their bodies in these tunics that you usually have to wear, showing their arms, showing their legs. I mean, it is hard to really put into words for a Western audience just how brave this is. You are literally walking outside knowing you could be shot and killed. As these women were doing this, men were walking alongside them and protecting them and praising them. [clips of people cheering and supporting each other] Those first few days and then weeks were just extraordinary. And the women of Iran did not back down. And they won. They won because they couldn’t be silenced. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: I want to talk about that in particular. I mean, that kind of imagery is what has stuck out, I feel like, in the minds of so many as the most defining of this revolution. But, I mean, this regime, you know, has kept very strict laws on women, including on how, you know, they can appear in public. How have women been able to express themselves since this revolution began compared to before? What is it like now today? 

 

Suzanne Kianpour: So my contacts inside the country are telling me that women are not only going out without their hair covered, they’re going out without wearing their called manto. So that’s like a tunic. Because you’re supposed to be wearing loose clothing. They’re just going out wearing what they would be wearing in Dubai or in D.C. or in L.A.. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 

 

Suzanne Kianpour: Which, again, I mean, that’s shocking. But what’s key is that they’re not cracking down as much. They’re kind of looking the other way. And it’s kind of one of those situations where the regime knew that, you know, the hijab was the fabric of the regime. And the women had been slowly pulling at the thread, unraveling this literal fabric until finally you reach that final scene where it’s just there’s no going back. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 

 

Suzanne Kianpour: And that’s where we are. They know we’re there. They know they have to reform. It looks like quiet reform, but they’re not going to announce it because if you announce it, then you’ve accepted defeat. We saw what happened with the schoolgirls rising up against the IRGC officials coming in to the schools and screaming obscenities at them, calling for, you know, death to the dictator, death to the supreme leader. And then we saw the poisonings of the schoolgirls where the regime officials were saying, oh, we don’t know who did this. So they don’t know who’s poisoning the schoolgirls, but they know when your hijab falls off your head, when you’re sitting behind the steering wheel at a traffic light. And so there were all these moments, I think, where they tried to use their usual toolkit of pressure and oppression and it didn’t work. And they recognized that. And so I think we’re seeing quiet reform because that’s the only way the regime can survive. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Certainly, women, life, freedom has become the slogan of this movement, defining and known around the world, which really speaks to, you know, how this is bigger than just eliminating the laws on Iranian women. What kind of lasting impact do you think this revolution will have on the people of Iran?

 

Suzanne Kianpour: The way the world rallied, the way the women galvanized the world, so in Iran, Iranian women are often referred to as shirzan, which means lioness. And we saw why. 

 

Suzanne Kianpour: Right. 

 

Suzanne Kianpour: And I think if the 2009 Green Revolution was the Twitter revolution, I mean, the Green Revolution really put Twitter on the map and showed the power of social media. Then the women, life, freedom revolution was the Instagram revolution. And I think what was really touching for the Iranian people was that they were finally heard and that was what they wanted. A lot of the times when I would ask people, what do you want? They just didn’t want to be forgotten. It’s the same thing that the women of Afghanistan want, but the women of Afghanistan have been forgotten. So I think women, life, freedom is not just about the Iranian women, you know, women in Iran fighting against theocracy, women in Afghanistan fighting against theocracy, women in Ukraine fighting against autocracy, women in Russia fighting against autocracy, women in the West fighting against misogyny. Women, life, freedom is more than just not being able to have your hair flow in the wind. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: And that was my conversation with Iranian-American journalist Suzanne Kianpour. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, thank you so much for that, Priyanka. And in some related news. The U.S. House passed a sanctions bill on Iran this week almost unanimously. It’s called the Mahsa Amini Human Rights and Security Accountability Act. It targets Iran for its human rights record and places restrictions on the country’s production and export of weapons. That bill is now headed to the Senate. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: You can find more of Suzanne’s work linked in our shownotes. That is the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads. [music break]. 

 

[AD BREAK]

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Let’s get to some headlines. 

 

[sung] Headlines. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Hunter Biden, President Biden’s son was charged on three criminal counts yesterday in federal court. They’re all tied to the allegation that he possessed a gun back in 2018 while using narcotics. The indictment came about because a plea deal crumbled apart at the last minute in June. And if Hunter Biden is convicted, he could face up to 25 years in prison and $750,000 in fines. The Justice Department also signaled that it’s still investigating his international business dealings and if he violated laws against lobbying for other countries. If such evidence exists, House Republicans could use that information to fuel their campaign to impeach President Biden. As for yesterday’s charges against Hunter Biden, no date has been set yet for his arraignment. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, let’s be real. Even if such evidence does not exist, House Republicans will be trying to use that to fuel their impeachment effort. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: It’s kind of a lose lose either way. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: And now to an update in the Georgia election interference case, where Donald Trump and 18 others were charged last month over their efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in the state. A judge there ruled yesterday that Trump and 16 others will be tried separately from two co-defendants heading to trial next month. Those two co-defendants are lawyers Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro, both of whom sought a speedy trial and will be tried together. Their trial is set to begin on October 23rd. And the judge said that he is aiming to have a jury seated by November 3rd. As for Trump, a date for his trial, as well as the 16 others, is not on the books quite yet. The judge’s ruling came after Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis urged all 19 defendants to be tried together, citing fairness and efficiency. But in his ruling yesterday, the judge cited logistical concerns like the Fulton County Courthouse not being big enough for all 19 defendants to be tried together, as well as a tight timeline that could prevent some lawyers from fully preparing for trial. So TLDR Trump will not be tried next month. We are not exactly sure when he will be tried. All we can confirm is that we will in fact be here to give [laughing] you all the news when it happens. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And now some disturbing news in Seattle. Earlier this week, bodycam footage was released in which a police officer is heard joking about a woman’s death and saying that her life had, quote, “limited value.” There’s a lot of pieces to this story, but here’s what you need to know. The footage was recorded back in January. And in it you can hear police officer Daniel Auderer , who is also vice president of Seattle’s Police Union speaking to someone on the phone. Auderer  was reportedly talking to Mike Solan, president of the union. But that side of the call can’t be heard. So Auderer was responding to a crash where another officer had struck and killed 23 year old Jaahnavi Kandula in a crosswalk. And after evaluating the incident, Auderer reportedly called up Solan and is heard talking about what happened. Take a listen to the recording released by the Seattle Police Department. And a warning. It is chilling. 

 

[clip of Daniel Auderer] Yeah, just write a check. [laugh] $11,000. She was 26 anyway. She had limited value. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yikes. The Seattle Office of Police Accountability is investigating the incident. Meanwhile, Auderer has not responded to media outlets for comment. But a conservative talk radio host in Seattle reportedly obtained an account Auderer filed to the Office of Police Accountability. In it, Auderer states that his comments were meant to mock city attorneys who might seek to minimize liability for Kandula’s death. Kandula was on track to graduate this December with a master’s degree. Her uncle told the Seattle Times, quote, “The family has nothing to say except I wonder if these men’s daughters or granddaughters have value. A life is a life.” 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. It is so chilling to hear the way he laughs after a person was killed. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: It just is the callousness and disregard for the lives of people of color that these people in authority positions who are supposed to be making in theory, our towns and cities safer places to be have. It’s something that we learn and become reacquainted with every single day. It’s a sad reality, and this is just another extremely disheartening and outrageous display. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: It’s been a big week for aliens. Here in the U.S., NASA released a report on Thursday outlining its plan to study UAPs or unidentified anomalous phenomena. Sounds like a Cardi B song, [laughter] UWAP, is just how I’m going to refer to it now. That starts with the agency’s move to appoint an official director for UAP research. But don’t get too excited quite yet. NASA clarified that this does not mean that they found any evidence to suggest that any of the UAPs reported so far are extraterrestrials or aliens, but rather that the agency is committed to being an active part of the effort to understand what they are. Meanwhile, the real action is happening over in Mexico, where lawmakers held a hearing about UFOs on Wednesday. Jaime Maussan, a journalist and self-proclaimed quote unquote, “ufologist,” which is UFO and you stick the word -ologist, I guess after it [laughter] made headlines after he presented two bodies that he said were alien corpses. If you watch the video of his testimony, the figures basically look like a white version of E.T., big heads, tiny bodies uh and hands that only have three fingers on them. According to Maussan, the bodies were found in Peru back in 2017 but are over a thousand years old. Maussan, not the first to make this kind of claim. Scientists have consistently said that quote unquote “alien corpses” like the ones Maussan presented are just mummies. But still, Maussan insisted under oath that, quote, “We are not alone.” 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Listen, he might be on to something with that. We are not alone. I don’t know if these bodies are representative of you know that but.

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: He might be on to something. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: I think you’re right. I don’t think this man lied under oath. But I’m not buying the corpses. [laughter]

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Great news for cheeseheads, Planned Parenthood in Wisconsin announced yesterday that it will resume providing abortion services starting on Monday. Back in July, a judge in the state signaled that Wisconsin’s 1849 abortion ban would not be enforceable. Planned Parenthood then spent months consulting with doctors, lawyers and other stakeholders before making yesterday’s announcement. Here’s what the head of the State’s organization, Tanya Atkinson, said in a statement: 

 

[clip of Tanya Atkinson] Thank you. Thank you for all you’ve done and continue to do to protect access to abortion. Essential health care. Thank you for working tirelessly to right this course of history in Wisconsin. Because of your continued support and because together we never give up. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Ever since Dobbs, Wisconsinites had to cross state lines into nearby Illinois or Minnesota to get an abortion. But this Monday, they’ll be able to go to Planned Parenthood’s locations in Milwaukee or Madison. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, this is huge for the people of Wisconsin. Thank you, Planned Parenthood, for your work. This is vital. I think people there are breathing sighs of relief. These are services that people around the country don’t have access to very clearly and I’m sure are wishing they were in the position of the people of Wisconsin now who can get this at least somewhat closer to home than they used to be before. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, or GLAAD for short, found that LGBTQ+ representation in film is at an all time high right now. But that could change if studios don’t make a deal with Hollywood’s striking writers and actors. This is according to GLAAD’s Studio Responsibility Report, an annual study tracking the, quote, “quantity, equality and diversity of queer movie characters.” This year’s report was released yesterday, and it found that almost 29% of movies that came out in 2022 featured an LGBTQ+ character. That is the highest percentage that GLAAD has ever recorded in its 11 years conducting the study with record numbers of trans and non-binary characters in particular. But important caveats here. Not all LGBTQ+ characters had significant screen time. Half of them were only on camera for less than 5 minutes. And a whopping 86% were for less than one minute. Great news and all, but still a lot more work to do. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: GLAAD held a joint press conference with striking unions SAG-AFTRA and the WGA at the Los Angeles LGBT Center to discuss their findings on Thursday. The organization urged Hollywood studios to prove their commitment to the queer community by meeting the demands of striking actors and writers, or risk losing all of the progress that the industry has made towards representing the LGBTQ+ community on the silver screen. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: It’s good to see that representation is up, if you will, but that particular point that you– 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: –ish. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: –highlighted, that right, ish it’s like, you know, we’re only on screen for less than a minute when you see us. Like, how odd is that? 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: That’s tough to really, really get too excited about. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, it’s interesting. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: And those are the headlines. 

 

[AD BREAK] 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. DM us E.T. and tell your friends to listen. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And if you are into reading and not just advancing women’s rights around the world like me, What a Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Tre’vell Anderson. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: I’m Priyanka Aribindi.

 

[spoken together] And keep Hollywood queer. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: But give us a few more minutes on screen. Please and thank you.

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah a little more queer honestly. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: [laughing] Right. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: 86% at one minute, guys. Come on. That’s actually outrageous. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: [laughing] And it is. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. We’re begging for scraps here. [laugh] [music break]

 

Tre’vell Anderson: What a Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Our show’s producer is Itxy Quintanilla. Raven Yamamoto and Natalie Bettendorf are our associate producers, and our senior producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka. [music break]. 

 

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