We are publishing a heartfelt account of an Iranian activist who describes the situation in her home country and the valiant struggles led by women against an oppressive regime and its policies aimed at social control.
The first time I walked down the streets of my neighborhood without a headscarf was a strange experience.
Like many Iranians around me, I was never a Muslim in heart and I had never wore the dress code they had forced on us properly but still, I was terrified. What would happen if the IR forces saw me and dragged me to a van like they did to Mahsa? What if they took me to the station where they beat me to death, or even worse, raped me? Afterall every day that a woman survives among these brutes is a lucky day. It always has been, these days more than ever.
I was terrified but the wind blowing through my long hair was touching it softly, comforting my beating heart. I tried to look around. A young girl my age waved at me. She was also not wearing hijab. How beautiful the women of my country have been all along. I waved and smiled back under my mask. I’m not wearing it for COVID, COVID had become the least of our concerns since the death of Mahsa and many more. It is for the protection, so that my face is not recognized easily.
I walk past three young men and they shout “women life freedom” at me. The three words that are heard everywhere now, it is even written on the old wall of an abandoned house I pass by. Soon they will erase it, not by painting colors over it, but by spraying some ugly darks to cover the lines. Sometimes the regime forces even try to scribble on “Death to dictator” slogans! As they say, “a guilty conscience needs no accuser.” Funny how vulgar they are in every aspect. So distasteful like the monsters of Persian mythology, the enemies of the beauty and life.
The weather is cold and I’m not used to the sensation of the cold wind touching my bare head but who am I to complain when Mahsa, Nika, Sarina, Hadis and many more can no longer feel what I feel now. The many beautiful young lives that have been taken from us. There is more than one thing to trigger the traumatic memories of loss these days. A song (Nika), a phrase (Kian), and now a video game cafe that I pass by which makes me think of Mohsen, who loved video games, and my heart breaks in pieces.
Mohsen Shekari was a young man who was recently executed by the regime for taking part in the protests. Many of us have been on the streets for months but he was executed to set an example. There are more who are receiving death sentences each day. The people who are more than just names, who have passion, love, families and friends.
The regime forces kill us like bugs and they treat us less than animals. They have stolen our land and tortured our souls. We are just as human as anybody else. Mohsen loved gaming, Nika loved singing, Sarina loved vlogging, Mehrshad loved cooking, Mahsa loved dancing. We don’t fight because we hate, we fight because we love life and we want to live it the way we deserve.
So I write for you. I write to be heard. For the beautiful people who risk their sweet lives facing the decline of humanity. For the representatives of human dignity. For the people of Iran. For the hope of a better tomorrow. For Women, Life, Freedom.