With a full moon rising between palm trees, some two hundred students gathered in the twilight near the library's front steps at Cal State Northridge, holding candles and listening to their professors and students speak for Esha Momeni to be freed from all charges against her in Iran.
Wearing t-shirts with the words FREE ESHA, a band played before the gathering crowd.
Then a speaker shouted "Free" as listeners answered "Esha." Her photos cycled on a screen in front of the crowd.
I held a candle with one of my students as Esha's sister, a close friend, her professors, and fellow graduate students in Communications Studies spoke.
"We are not here tonight to offer Esha or any other Iranian woman our pity," said Dr. Melissa Wall. "...we offer our understanding and our solidarity and to share our hope that Esha be allowed to rejoin us soon to continue her academic work."
She explained that Esha had flown to Tehran to film documentaries of the strength of the women's movement in Iran and correct Western stereotypes about Iranian women.
Esha filmed interviews with women in the One Million Signatures Campaign, a grassroots movement inside Iran. The site in English for this group is http://www.we-change.org/
Tributes from the blog http://for-esha.blogspot.com/ were read, along with a poem written by Esha.
How did the apple taste?
Being a woman is an unforgivable sin...
The Campaign's goals include equal rights in marriage, divorce, inheritance, and other areas, as well as "reform of laws that reduce punishment for offenders in cases of honor killings."
An American citizen by birth but raised in Iran, Esha is 28 years old and had just completed two months of filming in Tehran when she was arrested on October 15.
"She is one person trying to give the entire nation a choice," said one speaker.
For one hushed, candlelit moment we all stood in international solidarity for women's equal rights.