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Why is the Chabahari girl our symbol?


Writing is in the midst the flames of fury and blood, on a trembling ground. It is still not clear to us where the conflict between the superior forces of the state/religion/tribe and the suppressed lower layers of the society will lead. The outer hard shell does not hesitate to do anything to maintain the status quo and suppress the anger of subordinate women and youth. The coming days are of significance, revealing the consistent but unorganized struggle of the marginalized, especially women, with the outdated structure; A dynamic struggle that is always embodied in the form of daily resistance and was often ignored, but today it has come to the surface, impossible to deny.


Chabahari girl revealed the naked truth about the underlying conflicts of Balouchestan society. All of a sudden, the society ran out of patience and erupted. We remember that when Iran was mourning the tragic death of Mahsa Zhina Amini, the news of Baluchistan broke over social media. A high-ranking police official in Chabahar had raped a teenage girl living in one of the villages of Chabahar. In those days, rumours were flying around, and there were many confirmations and denials circulating in cyberspace. The judiciary and law enforcement did not see the need to respond. The accused was from the same official apparatus of repression in Balouchestan who never felt obliged to respond to his crimes, insults, and abuse, as he felt entitled. Meanwhile, a well-known Balouch activist started to publicly investigate this matter, others tried to shed light on the incident through the network of acquaintances. While the mainstream media was silent, this civil activist revealed the tragic truth. She was later threatened and jailed. 


These activists’ initiative, in a society that is known for its deafening silence on sexual violence, is unprecedented. The common perception has always been that “this is Baluchistan, anyway”, the tribe decides itself, probably by getting rid of the girl. In 2017, forty-four women from Iranshahr were raped, the truth was never uncovered. The society could no longer remain silent. Something had cracked in Baluchistan. Their understanding of discrimination, suffering and recognition of their right to their destiny had been transformed. This growth was evident when seeking justice for the Chabahari girl.


At first, the clergy kept a “meaningful” silence and called for order. Members of the parliament and official parties active in Balouchestan chose utter silence, as the tribe did.  The ruling Shiite central government had a similar approach to this disaster; An encounter which has become a “normal” and frequent topic in the geography of Balouchestan. Perhaps a review of the structural and historical discrimination in Balouchestan will help to understand the central government’s approach to the issue of Chabahari girl. For years, the central Shiite government has deprived Balouchestan from development and justice-oriented programs with disenfranchisement and structural discrimination. For years, it has shattered the hope of a better life and dehumanized them with its centrist and hegemonic meaning-making system. Men have been portrayed in a violent, barbaric light, while women were deemed as passive and oppressed. Colluding with the central power and protecting their interests guarantee climbing up the ladder of success.  


Widespread poverty and high rates of illiteracy, (unemployment, and lack of identification) in Balouchestan are no longer hidden from anyone. The Baloch have been a forgotten nation for years, and the evidence lies in the increase in executions of the Baloch in the last two years without transparency and fair trial, which leaves no hope for justice in other crimes. Despite this painful history and the systematic exclusionary practices, the massacre of the empty-handed justice-seekers on the Bloody Friday of Zahedan, revealed the oppression and discrimination against the Baloch nation more than ever to the other people of Iran. Cutting off the Internet failed to silence the voice of the Baloch. The central government, which has always used polarization and prioritized the interests of non-Baloch natives over the Baloch to advance its scenarios, has not been able to attract popular support. The armed groups that were active near the borders of Balouchestan had been undermined by Pakistan and the Taliban, and the government could no longer support the claim of “armed Baloch people”. On that Bloody Friday, the Baloch had nothing but sticks and stones in their hands against the barrage of machine guns, as evidenced by countless videos that were published after this bloody day.



These events made people of other regions, especially the nations throughout Iran, to sympathize with the Baloch and voice their support for them in their protests. These changes and sympathies promise a new era that warns the government that it should be afraid of the changing society of Balouchestan. The Sunni clergy led by Abdul Hamid Ismail Zahi, who tried to institutionalize the oppression of women for years, maintained their status by colluding with the government and tribes. Discredited by women and activists, this institution did not anticipate disobedience due to the support of the Taliban and Raisi’s presidency.  Other Sunni clerics of Balouchestan had a similar situation. Only one person amongst many Imams of the Friday prayer was willing to listen to the voice of the family of the Chabahari girl before the street protests and voice their concerns from the official platform about the experienced oppression. However, the people of Chabahar spontaneously came to the street and gathered without the call of official authorities and the support of traditional authorities to seek justice. This rally, which continued until late at night, led to the arrest of many people, including several Baloch women, some of whom are still in prison. Three days after this protest, that is, on the Bloody Friday of Zahedan, people did not keep silent and rebelled against Molavi Abdul Hamid’s wishes. The death toll is a testament to the chronic oppression. Many of the dead didn’t even have birth certificates, they had a history of drug abuse and humiliation in provincial prisons, coming from marginal areas like Shirabad; It is not an exaggeration to say that this neighborhood is one of the poorest and most deprived areas in the peripheral regions of Iran. But are thought as rebellious who should be put in their place! The follow-up of the events after the Bloody Friday shows that some clerics tried to quell the public anger caused by their silence by making statements in support of the protesters; An issue that shows how people were able to undermine the leadership of the clerics and at the same time discredit the scenarios of the repression apparatus, without needing the support of an external authority.

Why is the Chabahri girl our symbol?

Authors: @thevoicesofbaluchwomen, Dasgoharan

Translated into English by Tanide 

Poem by Sama Ooryad

Tanide’s introduction: Sadegh Fooladi-Vanda was a socialist worker and shoemaker from Gachsaran, a small, marginalised town in the southwest of Iran. During the first days of widespread Jina revolts all over Iran, Sadegh started to anonymously print radical graffiti and spray revolutionary and socialist slogans on walls of Gachsaran; he painted slogans such as Zan, Zendegi, Azadi/ Socialism or Barbarism/They wanted to bury us; they didn’t know that we are seeds and we will grow…

On February 23, 2023, his corpse was found in the canals of Gachsaran. Those who found him could only recognize his body from his tattoos as his face was beaten up severely before being choked to death. Iran’s notorious local IRGC fascists killed Sadegh because he believed in equality, socialism, and revolution. Sadegh was a shoemaker, a worker. On his little shoebox, it was written ‘shoemaker of flowers of pain.’ Sadegh was a poet too and loved to recite poetry to children-workers. The following poem is written by Sama Ooryad, a poet, feminist and new media scholar who is originally born and raised in the same city as Sadegh’s— Gachsaran— and is dedicated to the memory of Sadegh and to what Sadegh’s activism, passion, and dreams—as manifested through the graffiti painted on Gachsaran’s walls during the Jina revolts—have meant for her:

To Sadegh, Shoemaker of Flowers of Pain

Sadegh, they have found your corpse in one of the canals in Gachsaran after 18 days. 

They say, ‘around his neck, there was found bruising signs of choking-rope, and the intensity of bruises on his face was so much that his face was unrecognizable; they recognized him from his feet and tattoos on his body’.

Sadegh, I did not know your name when I saw the hammer and sickle graffiti, the Zan, Zendegi, Azadi for the first time on Gachsaran’s walls. When I sat behind my desk and yelled in sorrowful joy, ‘This is in my town, Gachsaran!’ 

Sadegh, I did not know your name the minute a friend sent your graffiti to me on Telegram: radical graffiti on Gachsaran’s walls! Who could believe that, Sadegh, who could believe that? 

My eyes? My cursed past? My haunted now? My liberated future? 

Oh Sadegh, your hair is black, and your eyes glow beautifully

 in the pictures that I saw of you! 

And I am writing this poem in English on purpose – I cannot look you in the eye.

Sadegh. Ay, between me and you, there are thousands of ‘flowers of pain’, thousands of non-utterable darknesses. 

I cannot talk to you in Farsi, my ‘yoldash’, ‘manim communist yoldashim san’. 

I cannot talk to you in Qashqai Turkish either. 

My Turkish has vanished in my Mama’s eyes, in my unliberated childhood. I can only read to you from the lines you drew in that town of ours! 

Sadegh, they say you were a poet, and I found your Instagram page. 

The third post is a picture of your shoemaking materials with a caption from Bertolt Brecht:

‘every morning to earn my bread and butter, 

I go out where they buy only lies. Hopeful, 

I stay in the queue with other customers.

Sadegh, did you know that I also write poetry? 

Did you also go to the anjoman-e adadbi-e Gachsaran? Or maybe you had to earn money full-time for the whole family? 

With that small box, on which it is written, ‘shoemaker of flowers of pain’. Is that how you wanted to be remembered, Sadegh? 

I saw the photos, Sadegh. I saw your spray-painted artwork on the walls of my cursed hometown, Gachsaran, and it liberated me. You did that, Sadegh. 

You did it in our little town, where I grew up in agonizing retentions, in feelings of ecstasy over getting ice cream from Mr Rostami.

In love with anything but the nights, boring and poor nights, but also in Farrokhzad’s, Shamlou’s, Huleh’s, Ahmadi’s, and Panahi’s poetry 

in the theatre and failed loves in distress and disaster

Where manim Jeyran Mama still lives.

Furniture has become so expensive, even in that tiny town of ours, Sadegh! Mama says even Khosravi Furniture has started to sell furniture that can be paid for in installments, and everything is unbearably high in price, etc. Maybe I should write this in Farsi, but who cares, Sadegh, who cares? 

You were killed by the fascists, Sadegh, by the fanatics. You wrote on the walls, ‘socialism or barbarism/Zan, Zendegi, Azadi’.

Barbarism rules these days, Sadegh! 

Around the world, all the way from Gachsaran to Gothenburg.

You wrote this, and I didn’t know you then, Sadegh. 

‘Could you please at least tell his first name to me?’, I asked the admins of Blackfishvoice, on whose page I first saw this graffiti. ‘We can’t say that’, they replied. Who could guess that I would eventually learn your name through the news of your death, Sadegh? Who could guess that? 

I wish I never knew this name, as then you would still be alive. 

I wish I had not found your page on Instagram un-updated and left unchecked since September 5, 2022. 

 Mainstream media now denies that you existed or that you were killed. Why do you think that is so? Socialism or barbarism? Are you being a communist? You being from that small town, whose name no one can even find on Iran’s map? From your wooden shoebox, on which you wrote ‘shoemaker of flowers of pain’? Because you were poor and had to sit on the streets and clean people’s shoes? Because you liked Pushkin, Brecht, and Mayakovski? Which of these made you become so threatening and excluded, Sadegh? Which of these, manim mahjoor yoldashim? 

I can’t write about you without your name, Sadegh.

Sadegh means honest, 

and you were honest to the principles of the damned

To the agonies of the wretched poor, 

to the sorrows of Gachsaran’s haunted walls, 

to the feelings of emancipation for your unknown friend, Sama. 

You have been honest, Sadegh. 

You have been painfully honest to all of these, and maybe one day I could tell your story in Farsi, too: that a shoemaker of the flowers of pain once lived in Gachsaran,

loved communism and socialism 

and Brecht and Mayakovsky, 

and they killed him 

for loving these 


for Zan, Zendegi, Azadi.

To Sadegh, Shoemaker of Flowers of Pain
Poem by: Sama Ooryad