Today Zhina/Mahsa Amini’s name is not just a name anymore. The Iranian Kurdish woman who was beaten to death in the custody of the so-called “morality police” in Tehran has become the symbol of an unprecedented revolution in the country, a revolution sparked by women and centered around the slogan #WomanLifeFreedom. For more than a month now, Iranians of all ages, including Gen Z, from all walks of life, including university students and laborers, and from all over the country and the diaspora have united and taken to the streets to fight against a brutal patriarchal dictatorship that uses its ideologies, finances, and military power to rob the Iranian people, in whatever way it can, of their right to their bodies and minds.
Since Zhina/Mahsa’s death on September 16, 2022, at least three hundred more civilians, including forty-six children, have been violently killed, and these are just cases officially confirmed by human rights organizations. Thousands more (according to some sources, as many fourteen thousand) have been arrested and many are disappeared. The numbers are rising every day as the protests continue, and the lives of many prisoners, including journalists and human rights activists, are in danger.
The #WomanLifeFreedom series at Words Without Borders is an attempt to create a space for the voices of Iranians who are using their words and their art to document these days as well as protest and fight the system. Taking inspiration from the horizontal, decentralized spirit of the movement and its collective collaborative approach, while wanting to avoid demanding more labor from Iranian writers and artists and activists hard at work in this intense time, I will be primarily curating material that has already been produced and shared among Iranians on various social media, a battleground where much invaluable communication and conversation joins the bodies in the streets standing against bullets and batons.
The #WomanLifeFreedom series will be published every three weeks, and besides offering a collection of works on our page, it will also link to other works out there that speak to the moment: visual arts, music videos, performances, interventions, creative actions of presence and protest on the ground, as well as already-published essays in English that have received attention among Iranians.