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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Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

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