More than 30 cars and 100 people met at UBCO on Saturday afternoon for a combined Iranian-Ukrainian car rally.
Dubbed the ‘Human Rights Drive’, the two sides decided to combine their protests, as both countries are facing humanitarian crises.
The Iranian-Ukrainian car rally called the ‘Human Rights Drive’ has started in #Kelowna. The rally of more than 30 cars is driving from UBCO to Westbank and back @KelownaCapNews @BlackPressMedia pic.twitter.com/Mj61TCHKDa— Jordy Cunningham (@CunninghamJordy) November 12, 2022
“We have to show that Ukrainians and Iranians are fighting the same battle,” said Iranian protest organizer and UBCO engineering teacher Ray Taheri. “Brothers and sisters in these two countries are sharing the same pain and agony, but we will prevail.”
After the first Iranian protest in Kelowna last Saturday, the two groups decided to come together with a drive from UBCO to Westbank and back to spread awareness to what their countries are facing in Ukraine’s battle with Russia and Iran’s with their own government.
“We have a common enemy,” said Kelowna Stands with Ukraine President Denys Storozhuk. “This isn’t just against the regimes, but in general against dictatorship.”
The Iranian government has supplied weapons and drones to Russia that have destroyed Ukraine’s infrastructure, both Taheri and Storozhuk explained to Capital News.
“We need to show our support and solidarity for a very organic and conscious revolution happening in Iran,” said Taheri. “The tools [dictators] have is to stop the spread of truth and facts of information and we want to bring awareness to the community of the Okanagan as well as a larger community. They and we are fighting for human rights in Iran and Ukraine.”
While Ukraine has been at war with Russia for months now, Iranians have ramped up their opposition to their government after the death of Iranian woman Mahsa Amini under the eye of the country’s religion morality police.
Kelowna Stands with Ukraine has been hosting events in Kelowna since the beginning of the war and have been bringing refugees to town over the last few months. With all the events over time, more and more people around Kelowna and the Okanagan have become aware of what’s going on with these two countries.
“I think the only reason Ukrainians stood up against aggression is due to support from all over the world,” said Storozhuk. “We need to continue this support financially and by accepting refugees, and if we don’t spread awareness, people will just go on with their usual life and nothing will happen.”
Saturday’s car rally was the first since Kelowna Stands with Ukraine hosted one in March when they drove from Kelowna to Vernon.
“More events is better and it’s good when it’s different types of events,” said Storozhuk.