You Don’t Need an Olympic Medal to Stand Up for Human Rights, but How’s This for a Protest?

Iran’s only woman to win an Olympic medal has defected in protest of “lies” and “injustice.”

Kimia Alizadeh, the first woman from Iran to win an Olympic medal, before announcing her decision to defect in protest.Andrew Medichini/AP

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They told her where to go, what to wear, how to act, what to say. Iran’s only female Olympic medalist has said enough is enough: She’s defected in protest.

“My troubled spirit does not fit into your dirty economic channels and tight political lobbies,” said Kimia Alizadeh, announcing her defection. “I have no other wish except for taekwondo, security, and a happy and healthy life.” In her weekend announcement to her 400,000-plus followers on Instagram, Alizadeh, 21, included an image of her from the 2016 Summer Olympics, where she became Iran’s first woman to win an Olympic medal.

She also spoke of “oppressed people of Iran” and the “obligatory veil” required of women. The New York Times quoted reports that she has moved to the Netherlands and hopes to compete in the 2020 Olympics for another country.

Alizadeh said she was looking forward to not being used as a “tool” by Tehran’s authoritarian government. “They took me wherever they wanted,” she wrote. “Whatever they said, I wore. Every sentence they ordered, I repeated.” She said she “didn’t want to sit at the table of hypocrisy, lies, injustice, and flattery.”

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Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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