Once, on the way back from an Esfahan excursion to Tehran, the organizers from Tarbiat Modares University divided the group of 60 foreign students in two buses: one bus for female students and the other for male students and Japanese girls. The organizers, [whose racism prevented them from recognizing that Japanese women also have a sexuality*], thought that there was no threat coming from Japanese girls to excite men on the bus, so they were allowed to sit in a bus full with men and enjoy the same privileges that men had. Shortly, the buses stopped near the “Atashkadeh” (Zoroastrian place of worship), and I saw men and Japanese girls taking photos and having smoke breaks outside. We girls were waiting for the bus door to be opened, and suddenly I realized that the organizers were not going to open a door for us, saying that it was not necessary to go out. While the men and Japanese girls were enjoying their “little freedoms” outside, the majority of the girls stood up and started shouting simultaneously: “BIRUN! BIRUN! BIRUN!” (“Out!”); the organizers thought it could trigger a serious protest and opened a door. That moment, I realized that if we remained silent, they would continue demeaning our dignity!
Today, after so many years passed, absolutely consciously I found myself at a protest held against the death sentence of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani.
On 24 July, on International Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani Day, in Tbilisi, the capital city of Georgia, from 13.00-15.00PM, a demonstration was held in front of the Embassy of Iran. This time, we made an announcement through Facebook calling people to join the worldwide protest. Around 35 people gathered and protested against the death penalty and executions in Iran. The main messages were directed at abolishing the death penalty and expressing solidarity with Sakineh and many other people sentenced to death in Iran. Protesters also read excerpts from poems “mara beboos” (kiss me), written by someone sentenced to death on the day before his execution in the early 20th century in Iran, and “abi, khakestari, siah” (Blue, grey, black) by Hamid Mosadeq; both poems are considered symbols of freedom. Notably, protesters did not know Farsi, but after an explanation of the content of poems, all of them felt enthusiastic to read them out loud.
Several protesters said that they were proud to be part of this demonstration and felt themselves as world citizens; other participants hoped that through the international protest we will achieve changes for better. We think that executions and violations of women’s rights and human rights in Iran are not only the problem of Iranian people, but are relevant to all citizens of the world, since no one has a guarantee of safety. Death penalties go against the most fundamental and principal human right – the right to life – and as long as it exists at least in one country, human rights will be under constant threat globally. At present, if some of us feel protected against death sentences and executions, still this does not allow us to be silent and inactive. Protesters condemn deprivation of human rights and execution of people in Iran. All of us believe that by speaking out we can contribute to the positive changes in the world.
* Note inserted by editor.