After a dangerous journey from Iran’s Kurdish region, Pershang Peighami reached England by inflatable boat.
Shno is a native city. The 25-year-old woman was a campaigner for local political parties and a women’s rights activist when she fled 18 months ago.
It was, she believes, the best decision she’s ever made.
“I had no option. “Had I stayed, then I would have been murdered,” she stated when we met in a busy cafe in the north-east region of England.
The country’s clerical leaders have spent the last five months trying suppress a nationwide rebellion triggered by the murder of a woman called Mahsa Amini.
After being detained by Iran’s religious morality officers , the 22-year-old Kurdish woman was taken to a Tehran police station and placed in an indefinite hold for improperly wearing her hijab.
Human rights groups claim that at least 470 protestors were killed in protests following Ms Amini’s death. More than 18,000 people were also arrested throughout the country.
The authorities use increasingly harsh tactics to suppress the unrest. In the last week, four protestors were executed on charges of “moharebeh” (waging war against God).
Ms. Peighami felt the effects of this uncivil war in Iran on northern England.
She said, “They were always smiling and always laughing and joking,” as she showed me photos of her nephews. They lived with great spirit.
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Farzad Tahazadeh (23), and Farhad Tahazadeh (24), have been accused of “waging war on God” and are now facing death by hanging.
She says that although the pair weren’t particularly political, they were frustrated by the country’s economic state. As large anti-government demonstrations swept through Shno in September, they took to the streets.
They were finally found by the regime a few days later.
“Farzad was taken out of his house at five in the morning. They took him while he was still asleep. He was asleep when they took him to the roof. His wife was pregnant.”
“And Farhad?” I asked.
“Farhad hid when his brother was arrested. Farzad escaped from Shno, but he was captured 20 to 25 days later.”
Shahla’s family sent us a video showing Shahla as she learned that her sons were facing death penalty charges.
She wept uncontrollably as Farzad’s son sat on her knee.
“Why can’t God hear me God?” I am burning inside.”
Iran Human Rights (IHR), a Oslo-based group, claims that at least 109 protesters were sentenced to death or have faced charges that could lead to capital punishment. Families must deal with the uncertainty surrounding their loved ones.
“I believe that family members are falling apart because they see the children in prison waiting to be executed. It is the worst feeling.
Ms. Peighami admitted that she misses her family while she waits for a decision about her asylum claim in the UK. Her two-month-old son Ramko, who is also in her one-room bed are joining her.
She says that she can’t go back to Iran.
“Did it make the right choice coming to the UK?” I was curious.
“I had no option. “I would have been killed if I had stayed.”