26 October 2022

"How can I keep silent?" Wagga poet wants us to stand with the women of Iran

| Chris Roe
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woman with photo

Poet Roya Pouya wants the people of Wagga to join her in solidarity with the women of Iran. Photo: Chris Roe.

Roya Pouya wants the people of her new adopted home in Wagga Wagga to stand in solidarity with the women of Iran.

“Iran has taken a step towards the light with its brave women,” she says, referring to the widespread protests that followed the death of 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman Mahsa Amini who was arrested by Iran’s morality police for not wearing her hijab “correctly”.

“I’m gonna say with confidence, the biggest human rights movement is happening right now in Iran.”

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Roya moved to Australia just three days before the borders closed in the early days of the pandemic in 2020 to join her partner Mohamed who works as a welder in Wagga.

A poet and academic, Roya has a master’s in women’s studies but says it was a challenging path to take in her home country.

“I couldn’t express my own ideas and beliefs so I had to be conservative so I can survive,” she explains.

“We have all the feminist theories about women, but it’s just in theory, we cannot turn it into practice.

“Women of Iran are just fighting every day for the basic rights.”

She says coming to Australia has given her the freedom she was denied in Iran, but she continues to speak out for other Persian women.

“I’m a spiritual person, I could find light and awareness in my life so I could heal myself as an oppressed woman who moved here in this free country with lots of choices,” Roya says.

“I’m following the news every day and I can’t sleep because I can see that this is a revolution actually.

“I truly believe this is a revolution in which teen girls are at the forefront.”


Roya will lead a vigil at The Curious Rabbit on Wednesday night. Photo: Supplied.

Roya shared her thoughts in a poem at the Booranga Writers Centre open mic at The Curious Rabbit and in response, they will hold a vigil tonight at the cafe in Wagga’s Johnson Street.

“She was arrested and was killed brutally by the morality police and now the name of Mahsa Amini is the potent symbol in the protests, that all the women and girls, at the age of 10 and 12, they are shouting and chanting this,” she says, adding that people across the world are showing their support.

“They need our attention. This is the least we can do for them at the moment, just standing in solidarity with them.”

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Roya shares the names of other young women who have died standing up to the regime; Nika Shakarmi and Hadis Najafi.

“How can I keep silent? We need to raise our voice,” she says.

“That is why I called on all of the locals that night when I shared my poem, that we need to pick up the message and support them.”

Here is the poem she shared.

Talk to the Future
A never-ending drama,
right now, is in the palm of your hand,
and your children’s ears,
are filled with the narration of women who wrapped their lives in their long
hair, dancing in the streets.
An undistorted description with visual evidence,
to prove that you are awakened now
by the warriors who are the last reincarnations of Apraniks and Atusas.
Call them Mahsa Amini.
Call them Nika Shakarmi.
Call them Hadis Najafi,
and please don’t put an end to this 24-hour daybreak.
We are all the early birds of the past for your children.
We are all the personification of your destiny
when chanting and embracing the name of Liberty.
Please keep living in this eternity.

A vigil in solidarity with the women of Iran will be held tonight (26 October) at The Curious Rabbit.

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