In what could be an important moment for women’s rights in Iran, the country’s only female Olympic medalist reportedly defected to the Netherlands while denouncing Iran for its “hypocrisy” and making a veiled reference to being required to wear a covering in order to compete. We have long discussed the courageous women in countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran who have fought against crushing oppression and discrimination. The defection of Kimia Alizadeh, 21, will highlight that struggle and allow her to speak freely in the West. The defection comes at a time of protests over the false statements made by the Iranian government over the downing of a passenger jet.
Alizadeh stated on Instragram “Should I start with hello, goodbye, or condolences?” The 2016 bronze medal winner further accused the Iranian government of “lying” and “injustice” toward Iranian athletes. She added that no concessions were good enough for the government and referring to being forced to wear the covering and that she “repeated everything they told me to say…None of us matter to them.”
It is a terrible decision to have to leave your country, but the move will allow Alizadeh to speak for other women left behind, particularly athletes. Hopefully, she will eventually return to the country when women are afforded equal rights and freedom of choice.