Skip to content

Statements of Progressive Mothers

Progressive Mothers

Tanide’s introduction: Mothers’ activism in Iran has a longstanding lineage of struggle, resistance, persistence, and remembrance. Dadkhah mothers of Iran from Khavaran to Aban have reclaimed history with their invaluable contributions to doing gender and politics in Iran and transnationally, their dadkhahi mission, and their multivarious forms of activism and reclamation. In the aftermath of the Jina revolts, and with the potent presence of schoolchildren and youth participating in protests and advancing the fight, there is a new wave of mothers’ activism emerging in Iran. They call themselves Progressive Mothers, and their activism focuses on defending the rights of youth, schoolkids, and all children in Iran and fighting alongside them. 

They have introduced themselves in the following words: 

“We are women and mothers who carry on the struggle and resistance alongside our children and youth. The idea of the Association of Progressive Mothers was formed from an encounter with the Woman, Life, Freedom revolts and in response to statements by some children’s rights activists stressing that kids and youth should be kept away from politics. While their aim was to support children, we witnessed only bravery, consciousness, and awareness among young people in Iran, which was inevitably intertwined with the political environment of the country. The agency and bravery of children during the Jina revolution were indefinable. Girls and boys took down the image of the dictator from their classrooms, threw the hijab off of their heads, and chanted “Woman, Life, Freedom.” This bravery moved us to found the Progressive Mothers. The terror of the murderous, child-killing regime is endless, and our fight to free all women [and marginalized bodies] will continue. The Islamic regime has recently been targeting our girls’ schools with serial chemical attacks. We do not separate the fight of children and youth from that of the ongoing revolution. In fact, we acknowledge the anger of our children and youth, and we support and draw inspiration from them. Furthermore, we will tirelessly strive to protect them and will not let anyone hurt them. For the Progressive Mothers, the only way to achieve this goal is to comprehensively fight the Islamic republic and negate the core of its ideology: compulsory veiling. We have already begun these efforts, and we are becoming more determined every single moment.”

This emerging form of mothers’ activism in Iran is inspired by their children’s fights in and outside of schools and classrooms. It is a unique form of mothers’ activism that, as its name conveys, is progressive and carries many affirmative potentialities. It is not based on grief, sorrow, or melancholia for the “lost ones.” Rather, it pursues dadkhahi along the path of the justice-seeking that has come before it, though with a slight difference: it actively attempts to protect its territories by petitioning, publishing statements, and going in front of schools to protect the youth. These mothers do not want to lose their children at the hands of a fascist, murderous regime, and they do not claim to have “better knowledge” than these youth. On the contrary, they are inspired by and learn from these young people while actively supporting them and their current fight. Such accurately progressive mothering continues the work of previous dadkhah mother-activists and paves the way for futurities to be imagined otherwise for youth and all people of Iran. 

The following piece is a translation of three of their series of statements published in Farsi on their Instagram account, @madranepishro. 

The first statement 

The school should be a haven for freedom, science, and truth. We are going through turbulent times. What happened to our dear Jina (Mahsa) Amini has affected the whole country. This teenager was arrested by the morality police due to the compulsory veiling law, and her corpse was given back to her family. Those her age, fellow sufferers, and all who are angry at this blatant injustice have revolted. It is apparent that this revolt is not going to stop. After one month of this country-wide protest, we are witnessing the burgeoning of more protests in schools, at universities, and on the streets. 

Today, the same students who have been subjected to your superstitious education for years are removing the veils from their heads and shouting alongside the protesters, ‘Woman, Life, Freedom’. You might have watched the videos of school students who, in response to interrogations by intelligence officers on the streets, have subtly replied, ‘we are students of the school of freedom’.

These students’ names are Mahsa, Nika, and Sarina. 

This generation has revolted against all that is rotten and illogical. The lively soul of these teenagers has given a new meaning to hope and a belief for a [better] future. It is this hope for a brighter future that drives the determination of these youth in their [protest] and questioning. 

They want nothing but freedom.

But your answer is brutal suppression. Today, schools have become palpably unsafe places for this country’s kids. You [the oppressors] are strip-searching, insulting, and humiliating children. You force them to perform state propagandist acts; you punish those who disobey, and you take them to correction centres. While suppressive forces are assaulting women protestors in broad daylight, we are worrying what is happening behind the walls of detention centres. We witnessed one of our teenage students in the city of Ardebil lose her dear life at your hands when you beat her to death – you who shamelessly threaten our children to tear their mouths and pull out their nails at your intelligence centres. 

One of the marvelous characteristics of youth is their ability to ask simple but hard questions. They do not give up until they get their answers, and they don’t listen to anything less than an answer.

Be aware that you are dealing with such a generation. We, as parents of these students, warn you that you and your thoughts have no place in the minds or futures of our children. You are directly responsible for this situation. 

We urge you to apologise as soon as possible to the noble students and teachers who want nothing but freedom. 

Just as quickly, free all political prisoners, students, university students, and women of this land – all whom you have imprisoned with the excuse of protecting the safety [of the country]. And beware that we, the parents of these schoolkids, stand side by side with our children. We will not let you abuse our children anymore. 

We compel you to rid all educational environments of suppressive forces, threats, and ideological, political, and security intimidation. You are responsible for providing the basic standards of a scientific education for our children – an equal, free education where our children enjoy the freedoms of speech and thought and are not treated as shapeless masses at the service of governmental politics. We ask all supportive parents to join us in not sending our children to school. 

We, as parents of this country’s schoolchildren, are seeing the risks of psychological, mental, and physical damage to our children and feel obligated to insist: if you cannot provide for the most basic needs, close the schools!

The association of Progressive Mothers. 

November 10, 2022.


The second statement of the Progressive Mothers

Forty-six days have passed since Jina’s name became a symbol of freedom and hope in our children’s lives. Her name shook the world, but for us as parents, it brought a greater lesson: we found our children in the continuation of this name’s valour. Moment by moment, these youth and teenagers are amazing us as their parents. They are twinkles of light despite the suppressive violence being waged equally against everybody.

Our teenagers are breaking the silence at schools and on the street. They are tearing up photos of the dictator. Standing elbow to elbow, these boys and girls are shouting, ‘death to the dictator’. They are the seedlings that have inevitably sprouted amidst your ideological and political suppression; now, no force will be able to confront them.

We told you to beware – to quickly free all political prisoners, especially schoolchildren and teachers, and apologise to them. But what did you do? You killed more than 40 kids and arrested many others. You went after our children with the support of your suppressive security network. You threaten them everyday. You inspect their books. Through heavy torture, you killed Parmis Hamnava on October 25, 2022 for the ‘crime’ of tearing up the dictator’s photo. You naively thought that you could silence our kids by stealthily granting them freedoms: ‘provided that its news will not spread to other schools, and on limited account, you can take off your maqna’e (school veils), but don’t shout slogans and don’t make a fuss’. You have tried to show a rosy image of the situation and create a false atmosphere of happiness by staging musicals so that you can continue your policing through lies. This is such an insulting and villainous attempt to humiliate the same kids who have already confronted the dictator in their schools. 

You have attempted to pressure students to spy on each other and give out each other’s names. You have threatened families and asked us to police our kids to make your jobs easier. 

But these are the schoolchildren and schools who have already sung your end. Sepah, go away! Basij, go away! Islamic Republic, go away! We will not get tired of repeating this truth that we have learnt from our children. What is rotten and on the point of death is you. Tomorrow is 13-e Aban[i] (4th of November). You will again try to gather our children en masse to commemorate your general. We say it clearly that you are responsible for providing safety for our kids. You do not have the right or ability to abuse them. 

We ask all worried parents to join us. Do not let the bodies and souls of our children become the suppressor’s battleground. Find your local and family networks. Stay beside your children who have broken down the walls of fear. Our long march towards freedom needs your company. Staying worried is not enough. We no longer want to hear news of the torture, killing, or arrest of schoolchildren. 

Our children’s demand is our demand. Immediately remove your ideological and security forces from all educational spaces. If you are unable to do this basic act, close down your suppressive schools. 

Association of progressive mothers. 

November 10, 2022

In praise of life and hope

At the chehellom of Kian Pirfalak, who was killed by this child-murdering regime, the fascist Islamic republic has not only refused to take accountability for any of their systemic killings but actually continued to kill systematically and take people hostage. On this same day, the 12-year-old Soha Etebari from the Bastak region was shot and killed by the regime’s forces. Her lifeless body is another testament that the blood of more than 70 kids is on the hands of this Islamic regime. We, as mothers, are fighting to stop these bitter deaths and obvious crimes. Right in the midst of this fight, we hear the news that a young man, exhausted from the crimes of the Islamic republic, has committed suicide to attract world’s attention to the ongoing hell in Iran, and we are saddened. 

That young man, as he himself shared in an Instagram video, preferred an epic death to the vulgarity of life. But this death has added more grief on top of the other pains we feel. This is a grief that we find it necessary to talk about. We, progressive mothers, are fundamentally in opposition to such an approach to fighting. The Islamic republic has held our thoughts and abilities captive for over 40 years with the ‘martyr’s culture’. The outcome of this insulting religious doctrine is that we undermine hope, life, struggles for freedom, and what is called human dignity. 

The rotten culture of the Islamic Republic has indoctrinated us into believing that there is nothing to achieve and no way to success. They want us to believe that all values are summarised in death and another false world. This spell has been broken by the ‘Woman, Life, Freedom’ revolt. Our children – our boys and daughters – have shattered this paralysing spell. Instead of praising death, they are chanting songs of hope and life. Jina’s revolt is first and foremost a revolt against the politics of praising death that rules us. For this very reason, our martyrs are not just the dead for whom we mourn and grieve, and we should not let them become as such. On the contrary, they are each the lively pulse of perseverance and justice-seeking. We see the ultimate instance of such resistance and persistence in all Dadkhah (justice-seeking) mothers – mothers who now believe in [more firmly] victory and freedom and continue to fight for a new world [order]. 

December 30, 2022.

Statements of Progressive Mothers

Authors: @madranepishro 

Translated into English by Tanide