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The struggle against social control has a long history in Iran. The problems from lack of freedom run deep and are found in several societal strata, such as gender imbalance in social power distribution, imbalance in the economic and educational system, social and domestic violence against women, honour killings and more.
When Mahsa Amini was murdered while in the custody of the morality police in September 2022, it ignited a huge protest that started in Tehran, then spread all around the country, across every city, and involving alle ethnic groups, irrespective of their religion.
The security forces, riot police, and members of the paramilitary Basij Resistance have murdered, detained and brutalized many people, including students, children, teachers, doctors, activists, and whoever dares to protest in favour of human rights and equal rights. According to Human Rights Activists News Agency, 222 people have been killed in Iran after Mahsa’s death, and the riot police continue to murder innocent people every day.
Nika Shakarami, a 17-year-old girl, protested against the mandatory use of the hijab in Tehran. She was killed and the government did not hand over her body to her family for a week. They first forced Nika’s family to sit in front of a camera and record a forced confession. Nika’s uncle and aunt were forced to claim that Nika was not killed in the streets, but that she had committed suicide. Immediately after Nika’s funeral, her mother denied the suicide claims.
This is not an isolated event in Iran. Abuse like this happens every day. The families of Hadis Najafi and Sarina Esmaeil Zadeh, both teenagers, tell similar stories.
The judicial branch of the Iranian government has not responded clearly to explain why protesters are dying. They have created irrational scenarios that make no sense, such as claiming acts of suicide, fatal falls and poisoning, to name a few.
Forced confessions are also broadcast on Iranian television. Just a month before Mahsa’s death, a video of Sepideh Rashno was circulating online. The 28-year-old artist and writer was harassed on a bus for dressing in «improper clothing». Later, the state television broadcast her forced confession and there were clear signs of physical beatings on her face.
There is also pressure on Iranian women living abroad. This is especially evident for athletes, artists, and other public figures.
The Iran Sports Organization always sends security staff to competitions along with the female athletes to control that they are wearing the hijab and to control their personal property. Female athletes are therefore forced to follow the rigid rules of the Iranian regime. Recently, Elnaz Rekabi, a climber, who competed at the Climbing World Championships in South Korea without wearing a headscarf, has reportedly been placed under house arrest in Iran.
These days, many Iranians and I live in a state of constant stress and anxiety. I feel guilty for not being able to participate in the protests in Iran. At the same time, being far away from my family and friends is very traumatic. The internet is often shut down in Iran, severing our connection with real time news and further separating us from our loved ones.
Every day is painful as we hear the news still coming out from Iran and see videos showing unbelievably brutal events. Many of the videos show people being tortured and killed in the streets. This is in public view; it is then easy to assume that the situation in Iranian prisons, where there are no witnesses or cameras, is much worse. A couple of weeks ago in Evin Prison, the main prison in Teheran, the riot police attacked and shot several prisoners. Still, there has been no public pronouncement on how many people were killed that night.
Almost four years ago I emigrated to Norway although, for my part, I would rather say I escaped from my country, just like thousands of other Iranians. Describing the situation in Iran is not easy. I try to focus on the points that have not been mentioned before. I prefer to be anonymous because my family live in Iran, and using my real name could put both me and my family in danger. My goal is to reveal the realities in Iran by telling the world and governments that we Iranians are not just asking for solidarity, we want the world to stop dealing with a regime that kills innocent people, children, students and women just because they are demanding their human rights.
My first experience with the ideological system started in first grade in elementary school when I was seven years old. The girls were forced to wear a specific scarf and a long shirt, called a “Manto”. As a child, I could not understand why it was mandatory to wear the hijab, I knew it was just the rule. I did not like it and always struggled to keep the scarf on my head.
The education system is based on brainwashing with compulsory religious education. I vividly remember that a religion teacher told us girls that we had to cover all our hair and make sure no part of it came outside the scarf. Otherwise, we would hang by our hair in hell. After this, I had nightmares for a long time.
What we now see in Iran is people who, after years of oppression, are seeking freedom from oppression. They do not want to live in fear of being killed for the way they dress.
A regime change is the only solution.
The editors know the identity of the author.