Diako Alavi, a high-school instructor from Mahsa Amini’s hometown of Saqqez, witnessed the primary protests following Amini’s demise in police custody after she was arrested for improperly sporting the veil. Alavi, who knew Amini’s household, took half within the demonstrations alongside his college students earlier than he was additionally arrested by the Iranian authorities.
I used to be a high-school English instructor in Saqqez (in Iranian Kurdistan), the place Mahsa Amini lived. We known as her “Jina” (her Kurdish identify). I do know her household effectively. Saqqez is a small metropolis of fifty,000 folks, and her father is retired from the native social providers; everybody respects him. Once I discovered that his daughter was in a coma after having been hit within the head repeatedly by the morality police, I used to be instantly frightened. The information started to journey across the city and emotion unfold. Her mother and father requested us all to hope for her.
I discovered that Jina had left us on Friday, September 16. We have been ready for her physique to be returned for the funeral the following day. A number of teams appeared to have been despatched to the 4 corners of town to ensure her physique could be returned to her household. I went to the cemetery at 8:30am. There have been so many individuals. Hundreds and hundreds of individuals have been prostrating themselves in absolute silence. You couldn’t even hear them breathe. It was startling and scary on the identical time. Then a person started to shout: “She may have been my daughter! She may have been your sister! How for much longer are we going to place up with this?” The silent crowd got here to life and commenced shouting. Inside a couple of minutes folks began calling for the demise of [Iran’s Supreme Leader] Ali Khamenei. Safety officers who have been on web site started filming the scene from the roof of the cemetery mosque.
That made a part of the gang livid, they usually went for them. For a second, I believed they have been going to kill them, however they simply took away their telephones and went again in the direction of Jina’s grave.
‘Don’t cry, Mom – we’ll avenge your baby’s demise’
Folks continued to shout in unison, each in Kurdish and Farsi. They have been calling out to Jina’s mom: “Don’t cry, Mom – we’ll avenge your baby’s demise.” Jina’s father grabbed a microphone to attempt to relax the gang. I believe that they had been threatened the day earlier than with reprisals in opposition to their solely son if the funeral was an indication. That’s when hundreds of individuals answered him with one voice: “Don’t be afraid! Don’t be afraid!” It was additionally at that second that ladies started to hurl their black scarves into the air. (A number of of those ladies have been pressured to depart the nation after having been recognized.)
‘I noticed two younger folks hit by bullets, proper in entrance of me’
The group determined to exhibit in entrance of the native governor’s workplace to point out their anger. There have been so many people that it took hours to get there. The authorities knew we have been coming and had arrange within the sq.. They started firing water cannon at us after only one warning. Then they opened hearth with shotguns; I noticed two younger folks get hit by bullets, proper in entrance of me. They have been shot within the eyes.
The subsequent day my metropolis regarded like a battle zone. Day after day, safety forces, Revolutionary Guards and particular forces poured onto the streets.
I went to the demonstrations daily. At the start I didn’t wish to, as a result of I’m slightly obese and I don’t run very quick. However my college students’ mother and father began calling me, begging me to assist them carry their youngsters residence. They mentioned to me: “They hearken to you, Professor – inform them that it’s harmful outdoors, inform them to come back residence.”
I went to take care of them and I found younger folks with extraordinary braveness, able to combat. This era may be very totally different from mine. Having needed to dwell in a society that solely affords them a future constructed of darkness and lies, they don’t have anything left to lose. On the very least, the ‘Girl, life, freedom’ motion has given them a little bit of hope. They’ve seized the chance as if they have been maintaining their heads above water. I received the sensation that they have been now not obeying something or anybody.
I bear in mind a younger woman whose bloody face I washed clear. She had been shot. I pleaded together with her to go residence. I instructed her that she had taken her share of accidents for the day, that she didn’t want to remain there, that she may come again one other time. However she wasn’t listening to something. She went straight again to the entrance line.
‘This Islamic Republic won’t final eight extra years’
I used to be arrested just a few months later, for my lecturers’ union actions and for having taken half within the demonstrations. I spent two weeks in jail, from January 2 to January 15, 2023. My interrogator accused me of being a foul instructor and of indoctrinating my college students. I had at all times mentioned every thing with them in school. English is a chance to study the phrases “freedom”, “equality”, “apartheid”. I ran a kind of literary café there that was additionally a spot of cultural trade for the lecturers.
Once I received out of jail, I used to be on “provisional launch”. That very same day, I made a decision to depart with out saying goodbye. I spent three months in Turkey earlier than coming to France. I typically have regrets. I miss my college students – I’m very frightened for them, and for his or her futures.
I’m ashamed that I left the folks near me with out saying goodbye. I maintain telling myself that I ought to have stayed. I used to be dealing with as much as eight years in jail; I believed I wouldn’t be capable of deal with it. In the present day, wanting again, I inform myself that I’d have been able to it and, in any case, this Islamic Republic of Iran won’t final eight extra years. As a result of daily it frays slightly extra from the within.
It has misplaced its ideological roots, and all of its help, throughout each degree of society: amongst lecturers, employees, pensioners, docs, ladies – and even probably the most spiritual amongst them. It has misplaced the combat over the veil, which had been one among its pillars. This regime is not more than an empty shell. I don’t know when I’ll return to Iran, however I do know that I’ll return at some point.
This text has been translated from the unique in French.