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Lucille Guenier / SOS MEDITERRANEE
19 Y.O.
Rescue Date
CONTENT WARNING: This testimony depicts extreme scenes of violence, including acts of torture.

Marina* was among the 75 women, men and children rescued by SOS MEDITERRANEE during the night of November 3, 2023. They were on an overcrowded sailing boat, adrift, in the Ionian Sea that had departed from Turkey a week before. They ran out of food and water for almost two days before being rescued. 

“I’m only 19 years old and I have seen hell on that boat, but I prefer the to be killed by the sea than by the Iranian government.” 

“My name is Marina*, I’m 19 years old, I’m Kurdish. I’m from the city of Mahabad in Iran. 

 I had to flee Iran to save my life. After Zhina Mahsa Amini* got killed, I protested. She didn’t deserve to die just because she didn’t wear the hijab. I protest for my rights, for my freedom, for the women in Iran. The situation for women in the country is unbearable. In Iran, the government kills people. Seven of my friends were killed in protests. I saw one of them die, she was studying to become a doctor. 

During the protest the police arrested me. They searched my social accounts and found footage on my Instagram that they consider “anti-government”. I was released but I protested again after a friend of mine got killed in a demonstration. The government arrested me again and sentenced me to four years of jail and 75 lashes. I was lashed and severely beaten in an overcrowded jail, as hundreds of people were arrested during the demonstrations. A 15-year-old girl died of a heart attack in jail because of all the lashes she received. After spending 15 days in jail, my family managed to pay 10,000 dollars to get me out. As the police was violent with me, I had to go to the hospital when I was released. The police are still looking for me in Iran, if I come back, I will not be safe.  

I left the country six months ago. I crossed the border to Iraq by horse for one day and a half. My uncle lives there. I stayed with him for a while and then left for Turkey in the trunk of a car. We were brought in a bus from Istanbul to a forest. We spent two days there and then we were put on a sailing vessel. We were 75 people on a 12-meter boat. After three days, the toilets were no longer working, after five days we didn’t have any food or water left. I’m only 19 years old and I have seen hell on that boat, but I prefer to be killed by the sea than by the Iranian government. I deserve to be free. I want to become a doctor, that’s my dream. We, women, need international support not to be killed by the Iranian government. Women, Life, Freedom.” ***

*Marina (name changed) wishes to share her story and show her face despite the persecution she has endured.

**Zhina Mahsa Amini was a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman who died in police custody in Iran in September 2022. Her death sparked the national movement “Woman, Life, Freedom.” Iranian authorities forcefully suppressed mostly peaceful protesters.

***”Women, Life, Freedom” is a slogan used in political demonstrations advocating for women’s rights and against oppression.

We thank Haya for lending her voice to Marina’s testimony.

Video credits: Claire Juchat – Jérémie Lusseau – Camille Martin Juan – Lucille Guenier / SOS MEDITERRANEE

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