Yalda Aghafazli was a defiant young woman striving for freedoms withheld by the theocratic regime.
She was named Yalda because she was born on December 22, the longest night of the year in 2002. In Iranian culture, the Winter Solstice is referred to as Yalda, symbolizing the triumph of light over darkness and celebrated accordingly.
Yalda Aghafazli actively participated in the protests that commenced in September 2022 following the tragic murder of Zhina Mahsa Amini while in the custody of the Moral Police.
Unfortunately, Yalda was arrested on October 26, just a little over a month into the uprising.
The 19-year-old protester spent four days in Evin Prison before being transferred to the notorious Qarchak Prison, where she remained detained for another 11 days.
In a call from Qarchak Prison, she mentioned that one couldn’t fathom the extent of the beatings she endured in prison to coerce confessions against her will.
“During these 12-13 days, I faced more beatings than in all my 19 years of life. My voice became hoarse because I screamed and shouted constantly, yet I remained steadfast and didn’t show any remorse until the very end.”
“They wrote in my file, ‘the accused did not express remorse,’ and I said, ‘Yes, that’s right. I won’t express remorse.’ Until the very last moment, I stood by everything I had done. They accused me of being involved in the riots, and I admitted to it. I didn’t cry; instead, I shouted and screamed so much that’s why my voice is hoarse. They beat me severely, beyond imagination! I can’t speak much about it here, but once I’m out, I’ll tell you everything face to face. I’ll share all the details.”
In yet another audio recording, she expresses sheer happiness that she didn’t yield. She proudly states, “I didn’t express any regret until the very end.” In her file, it was noted that “the accused did not express remorse.” Her reaction? “Yeaaah, exactly!” she exclaims.
Upon her release on bail on November 9, 2022, Yalda felt relieved that news of her arrest had gained widespread attention, and she expressed deep gratitude to everyone for their support.
A picture taken of her after being released from prison shows a happy, proud Yalda jumping into the arms of her uncle. Tragically, two days later, on November 11, reports surfaced stating that she had died. Initially, it was claimed that she had thrown herself from a rooftop, but state media later alleged that she died from a crack overdose.
Yalda Aghafazli is among many protesters who died under suspicious circumstances after their release from prison. These deaths have raised significant concerns and questions about the treatment these individuals faced while detained.
There are widespread rumors that prison authorities administer lethal injections to resistant prisoners before releasing them, leading to their deaths outside prison walls. This method allows them to evade responsibility for the protester’s death while instilling fear in the public and deterring others from participating in anti-regime protests.
And yet another audio recording of Yalda sheds light on the circumstances of her arrest and the arrests of many protesters, especially young women, by the regime’s ruthless security forces.
“They suddenly started chasing me, like they had it out for me because they couldn’t catch me before. I usually went out solo, and that night near the university on Eghelab Ave, this guy on a motorcycle yelled, ‘Get that kid!’
“He zoomed right at me on his bike, spraying pepper spray straight into my eyes. I tried to block it with my hands, but he grabbed my hands and tied them up tight with these wristbands. I couldn’t even feel my veins, they were so tight. Then, a bunch of them pinned me against the wall, pushed me down, and shone a flashlight in my face, shouting, ‘What’s your name?’ And then with my eyes shut tight, they dragged me and tossed me into a van.”
Yalda Aghafazli is one of the most popular martyrs of the 2022 Iran uprising. The regime’s hirelings have repeatedly scratched and damaged her picture standing on top of her tombstone.
In line with the pressures imposed on the families of the martyrs of the 2022 Iran uprising, her mother, Fahimeh Moradi, was arrested on September 17, 2023, on the anniversary of the Iran Uprising. The regime also summoned Yalda’s father and uncle and forced to cancel their plans to observe the first anniversary of her loss.
The writing on her tombstone reads, “The daughter of Iran, God created her happy and free; She did not believe her chains and took wings and flew away to reach her dreams.”
A Concise Photo Album of Yalda Aghafazli, Capturing Moments of This Happy, Young Woman Who Bravely Resisted Oppression