02 November 2022

Fighting for freedom

Growing up in the Netherlands is growing up in a country where you are free to say what you want. As a young girl, I didn’t always realise this. I said what I thought, without thinking about it any further. Until, when I was 10, I was introduced to the beautiful Iran, my father’s native country, during summer holidays.

From that summer, I had an extra family, one I now actually knew and who had welcomed me and my sister with open arms. They laughed hard at the jokes we made in poor Farsi and they introduced us to the culture that was new to us.

One day we were driving through Tehran in one of the many Peugeots 206. “Don’t say anything now, but I’m going to tell you later what that car is for”, my aunt said as she pointed to a specific car. My first thought was to say something anyway, because I can just say whatever I want, right? When the car had passed, my aunt told me that it was a car from the government, in which the secret service eavesdropped on whether anything negative was said about the government in the cars around it.

I don’t want to give in to the regime’s attempt to shut my mouth for the second time

So within a few days, I went from one extreme to the other. From daring to say anything I wanted, to being afraid to say something wrong in the car. That’s how my mouth was shut for the first time.

But how do you reopen a shut mouth? And how do you muster the courage to stand up for your rights and freedoms? That’s pretty tough.

A number of women in Tehran started with this a month and a half ago. Right now, it’s not just women anymore, who are protesting. It’s not just Tehran anymore, where people are protesting. It is not even just Iran anymore, where protests are taking place. All over the world, people are cutting their hair, protest art is being shared en masse and people are gathering in their thousands to demonstrate with the words “Zan, zendegi, azadi”, or “Woman, life, freedom.”

What also no longer remains within the Iranian borders is the control that the Iranian regime wants over its people. Iranian Dutch people are filmed at protests and feel they are being watched by Iranian authorities. That’s why I hesitated whether I should go to protests, or write about Iran. I don’t want to put my family there in an awkward position. At the same time, I don’t want to give in to the regime’s attempt to shut my mouth for the second time.

I want my voice to be heard, in whatever area. In the USR, in Ad Valvas and on social media.

Rebecca Maayeshi

Coordinator Organization & Finance











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