Being an Iranian woman is a heavy birthright. It requires knowing true and deep feminism, as well as knowing the violent repression at the hands of the governments that rule our homeland.
And for millions of us, that means eviction.
My parents and I were granted political asylum in Aotearoa, New Zealand when I was 9 years old. We never returned to Iran. Like most Iranian refugees, our fear of persecution will persist as long as the Islamic regime remains in power.
We have missed the birth and death of our loved ones. But what the world has learned in the last 55 days of revolution in Iran is that Iranians in exile have never lost a fervent connection to the plight of their people at home.
I hope it sends chills down the spine of the Iranian regime.
What is amazing is that our movement today is global, guided by the breathtaking courage of Iranian protesters and amplified by Iranians around the world. In the last 55 days, none of us have slept a night since the death of Masa Amini, a young Kurdish woman who died in “morality police” custody after being arrested under the hijab law. It has become a symbol of our pain. All of us know the violence of that regime. Every Iranian knows that they have been flogged, detained, tortured and killed.
But oppression was not an inherent part of Iranian culture. we know our rights. We know what democracy should look like. The 1989 Iranian Revolution was one of the most popular revolutions in living history because Iranians understood that the Shah’s secular dictatorship would never be enough. Our parents fought inequality. Their revolution was hijacked by a much more violent and repressive dictatorship, but they never stopped fighting back.
When we left home, I was old enough to still remember the hijab I had to wear to school. The fear my mother felt every time she left home. Check, double check her cover. Since then, my mother said she couldn’t understand how I could leave the house without lipstick.
It was her armor. For Iranian women, patriarchy has told us to be colorless, formless and asexual. Red lipstick wasn’t just for resisting Islamic dress—just the current protests in Iran and the Green Movement in 2009 aren’t just about the atrocities of hijab enforcement. , has become the front line of Iran’s resistance for human rights, democracy and regime change.
Last month, far away in New Zealand, we met at the Iranian Embassy. We knew the ambassador was inside. We shouted, “Fight, die, take back Iran.” We danced and sang about women’s rights. hugged each other A police officer dispatched to ensure public safety told us that the ambassador was inside and was reporting the commotion. But protesting is not illegal in Aotearoa.
There is a force of freedom in the Iranian diaspora movement. We can criticize Western governments for their inaction on human rights in Iran. In my case, I was the first refugee and Middle Eastern woman elected to Parliament in New Zealand. Meet with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Prime Minister and explain exactly what you need.
What we need is to freeze Iranian assets and bank accounts. Outlaw their funding mechanisms and designate them as terrorists known to be responsible for atrocities against our people. Among them must be the leader of the Revolutionary Guard, who has tortured and killed with impunity for 43 years. We want to expel the ambassador, the symbol of tyranny, from his comfortable position in our second homeland. These are some of the historically powerful actions that many Western nations have now swiftly adopted. This must be seen in part as a reflection of the diaspora movement.
The act of pulling so many Iranians away from their homeland is one of the regime’s worst effects. But it can also be a vehicle for its downfall. We grew up with freedom. We will not rest until all of Iran is free.
The chants that ring out only grow louder until the day Zan, Zendegi and AzadiWomen, life, freedom.