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Iran’s Women’s Rights Activists Won’t Stop

A Year After Mahsa Amini’s Death, Iran’s Women’s Rights Activists Won’t be Stopped

15 September 2023

Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights

One year ago, Iran’s “morality police” detained and brutally attacked a 22-year old Kurdish woman - Mahsa (Jina) Amini - for allegedly revealing too much hair beneath her compulsory hijab. Her death in custody on 16 September 2022 sparked mass protests across Iran under the banner of the Woman, Life, Freedom movement.

Iranian women’s rights activist and RWCHR Senior Fellow Shaparak Shajarizadeh reflects on the power of this anniversary and of this movement:

“Jina Mahsa” Amini was killed in a detention centre that has marked a scar on many women’s minds and souls over many years.

Iranian women’s rights activists have been trying to tell the word about the suppression of women in Iran for decades, but it was dear Mahsa’s death and the nationwide uprising that followed that finally woke the world.

During the uprising, over 600 innocent people - including 64 children - have been killed by the regime. Many have lost their eyesight.

After one year, Iranian women are still fighting for their rights and continue to show their protest by not wearing the hijab in public, despite the regime’s violence.

The world finally sees the true nature of the regime, but Iran’s women need more support.

That’s why the work and dedication of human rights advocates and human rights organizations like the Raoul Wallenberg Centre matter the most.

This is the first women-led revolution in history and we believe that the “Womaen, Life, Freedom” movement will not only change the fate of Iranian people facing up against Iran’s misogynistic Islamic regime, but that it will help change the fate of all women who are experiencing sexual discrimination around the world.”

Shaparak Shajarizadeh’s remarkable journey from “simple housewife” to movement leader and political prisoner was featured in First to Stand, the powerful documentary about our Centre’s human rights work (DLI Productions) and in this moving BBC short film. Shaparak is a Senior Fellow with the RWCHR and in 2018 was named by BBC one of 100 “women of the year.”

Our team continues to work on behalf of Iranian women’s rights, including by advocating for targeted sanctions against high-placed officials in Khomeini’s regime.

We stand in solidarity with - and in awe of all - Shaparak and all Iranian women’s rights activists, both inside and outside the country. Through their ongoing acts of civil disobedience, they risk it all to usher in the world as it should be. We know in our hearts that one day, they will prevail.

On the eve of the anniversary of Mahsa Amini’s murder, we remember her and all those whose lives have been cut short by this regime’s cruelty.

Inspired by the courageous human rights activists of Iran, we keep working.

And we echo their call: Zan. Zendegi. Azadi.

Woman. Life. Freedom!


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