Law students and young lawyers in Iran are reporting for JURIST on protests and related developments in Iran since the death in custody of Mahsa Amini. Here, a correspondent in Tehran talks about her experience after a recent protest. For security and privacy reasons, we are withholding the name of our correspondent. This report has only been lightly edited to preserve the author’s voice.
When as a teenager I decided to study law and chose this path to improve my society, I had no clue that this was just a rootless hope, since I was just a regular citizen with no special relations with the “men in the power”. As a “good” regular citizen, all I was able to do was give up on all my dreams and continue my life in the shade of “fear”. This was the lesson I learned last month as I was sitting on a bench of a sidewalk in Tehran, working with my phone with no scarf on my hair.
All of a sudden I realized a group of police officers were passing by that sidewalk to disperse small groups of people to prevent them from protesting. As they were passing by me, the lead officer told me to go home. However, since I was not doing anything illegal by sitting there, I continued working with my phone, but I soon realized it was not going to end that way. One of the officers was staring at me and as I looked back in his eyes, he took his gun and pointed it to my face without saying any words. The gun was about 8 inches away from my face and I was sure those were the last moments of my life. He pulled the trigger but apparently the gun was empty and he wanted to scare me (I came to that conclusion after he had already pulled the trigger and I was not bleeding).
The officers got away from there and I continued sitting there without letting myself be scared or even sad because I had read about and learned from many protesters who had borne various pains of their own and did not stop doing what they believed was right to do. Even by the time I was asked to write down my experience, I was feeling like this was just a regular incident. But every few days that a guy is shot dead or gets beaten just for a normal peaceful protest like horn honking (like Mehran Sammak) or for offering sweets to strangers or like me, sitting on a bench of a sidewalk looking at people, I realize what I experienced that day was just good luck. I was lucky to be accidentally sitting in a place full of cameras and witnesses where the police would not dare to shoot me.
When my father fought for his country in the war between Iran and Iraq, his greatest fear was that they would lose the war someday. But now, years after the war in Iran itself, a stranger points a gun at his daughter.
Dictators’ armies kill people, shoot at their eyes and bodies, beat them with batons, arrest them, rape them and execute them in order to scare them, but here we are in the fourth month of this battle. Now all we know is that we owe it to the martyrs of these freedom movements to keep going on this path fearlessly, because all dictators are fed by fear.