When computational geneticist Dr. Pardis Sabeti took to the stage at Sunday night’s TIME100 Impact Awards in Singapore, she dedicated her achievement to Mahsa Amini, the 22-year-old Iranian woman whose death in police custody last month sparked a wave of protests in the country against the Iranian regime.
“I want to dedicate this award to Mahsa Jina Amini and the young Iranians right now who are fighting for their freedom, whose impact should be seen, should be supported and should be fought for,” she said to the crowd at the National Gallery Singapore.
Amini was detained by Iranian morality police for not wearing a hijab properly and died on Sept. 16 after reportedly suffering blows to the head. Since her death, dozens of demonstrators have been killed and many more arrested in Iran’s largest protests in almost three years.
Sabeti, herself a refugee from Iran whose family fled the country shortly before the 1979 Iranian Revolution, said that her achievements in infectious disease research were only made possible by the “freedom” and “opportunities” she experienced growing up in the U.S. Amini, she said, was planning on studying microbiology and one day medicine. “Those are the fields of my own research and my own life,” Sabeti said. “But her dream was unjustly cut short.”
Sabeti said that support for vulnerable people and those struggling against oppressive regimes is crucial to growing the kind of global solidarity needed to mitigate the harms of any future pandemic. “You see, viruses, they expose and they exploit the cracks in our society: the lack of justice, transparency, and equity,” she said. “The way we weather those storms is most dependent on the ways we choose to see each other and to fight together…to uplift every individual and empower every human on this earth.”
She called on the officials, executives and activists in the crowd to help restore internet access in Iran—which has been cut off in some areas by the authorities in an attempt to crack down on protests. “Every moment in darkness is a mortal threat to another young woman,” Sabeti said. “And for each of us, please see and share their stories”
Sabeti ended her speech with a dedication to Amini and other Iranian women who have lost their lives under the regime. “To Mahsa Jina, Neda [Agha-Soltan, an Iranian woman shot dead by a government sniper amid demonstrations in 2009], and all of those that are gone too soon, beh omid-e didar, we hope to see you again, and beh omid eh rooz eh azadi, with the hope for one day a day in freedom.”
The TIME100 Leadership Forum, held at the National Gallery Singapore, brought together CEOs and other business leaders from across the globe to discuss how they are using their platforms to build a better world. Speaking at the event were: former Google CEO and co-founder of Schmidt Futures, Eric Schmidt; Sandhya Sriram, the co-founder and group CEO of Singapore-based cultivated seafood company Shiok Meats; Neo Gim Huay, managing director of the Center for Nature and Climate at the World Economic Forum; Ari Sarker, Mastercard’s president for Asia Pacific; and Neeraj Aggawal, BCG’s Chairman for Asia Pacific.
Immediately following the Leadership Forum was the TIME100 Impact Awards, which featured actor and producer Alia Bhatt; Sabeti; Gregory L. Robinson, the former Director of the James Webb Space Telescope Program; and singer and actor Lea Salonga.
The TIME100 Leadership Forum and TIME100 Impact Awards in Singapore were produced by TIME in partnership with the Singapore Economic Development Board, the Singapore Tourism Board, Mastercard, BCG, and Concha Y Toro.
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