Azadeh Shahshahani is a practicing human rights lawyer who has worked for over a decade in the US South. She was the first woman of color to lead the National Lawyers Guild and has been deeply involved in the movements for immigrants’ rights including shutting down the Stewart Detention Center and repealing the discriminatory educational bans affecting undocumented students in Georgia, dignity for Muslim-Americans, a just US foreign policy, and Free Palestine.
Azadeh Shahshahani was born in Tehran, Iran, four days after the 1979 Iranian revolution. The Iranian people overthrew the unelected, US-supported, Shah of Iran who had ruled the country since a 1953 CIA coup which eliminated the democratically elected President of Iran, Mohammad Mossadegh.
Her parents named her Azadeh, which means free-spirited in Persian, signifying the hopes they had for the revolution. Her family included many doctors. Her father as well as several aunts, uncles and cousins were all in the medical profession.
She grew up with war. The Iran Iraq war started when she was one and it did not end until she was nine years old. Readers may recall the US supported Saddam Hussein in that war giving Iraq billions of economic aid, plus weapons and intelligence to fight Iran.
I remember that my family had created this space underneath the stairs with a blanket hanging where the four of us (my parents, sister, and I) would go, sit, and hold hands when there were sirens…