From travelling the world to touring Italian bookshops, the Italian Alessia Piperno published a book on her experience in Evin Prison after being arrested in Iran last year.
The girl who every Italian held their breath a year ago, is now sharing the story of her 45-day imprisonment in Iran.
Attending events all around the peninsula, Alessia Piperno met people who hastened to the book launch with a humble smile and some tears of emotion.
Alessia was celebrating her 30th birthday on Mount Tochal, near Tehran, on September 28th 2022, when she and her friends were arrested.
Alessia Piperno celebrating her 30th birthday on Mount Tochal before the arrest (from Alessia Piperno's Instagram page)
Originally from Rome, Italy, she had embarked on her travels in 2016, working remotely and with the goal of exploring the world. Coincidentally, during her visit to Iran in 2022, protests erupted against the Islamic regime following the killing of Mahsa Amini by the morality police for not wearing her hijab correctly.
Miss Piperno and her friends were accused of participating in the protests and of espionage by the local police.
“At the beginning it was terrible, since my cellmates thought I was a spy, they didn’t trust me, they wouldn't talk to me. They would talk to each other, joke and sing, but I would only stare at the wall. But during those days I started writing this book and it became my hobby, obviously I didn’t have any paper nor pen, but I could do it in my head and I knew that one day when I would come out of prison I would have written this book exactly the way you read it today,” she said during the launch of her book in Rome.
She described the most terrifying moments as the night of their arrest and the night of the prison fire, when she thought she would die.
On the night of October 15, 2022, a fire broke out in Evin Prison. In Italy, news of the fire in Evin raised concerns for Alessia Piperno's safety. She later revealed that the fire was a cover for other events that night, including explosions, shootings, and a rescue attempt by protesters. As the night passed, news got to Italy that Alessia Piperno was safe, but nonetheless at least 8 people died and 61 were injured.
She was held in Evin 209, known as the “University”, which was the part of the prison where political prisoners, writers, actors and singers were held. She described the conditions in Evin 209 as inhumane, both psychologically and physically, and highlighted the mistreatment by the guards, who lacked humanity.
After 45 days of diplomatic efforts by Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani and his Iranian counterpart to secure her release, Alessia Piperno regained her freedom on November 10, 2022. She was welcomed back by her family and the mayor of Rome, Roberto Gualtieri.
Alessia Piperno with her dad in Rome after her liberation (photo by Il Messaggero)
A year after her detention, she returned to Evin, this time with her words. The book she wrote, titled "Azadi! A diary of travel, prison, and freedom", was published on September 26, 2023, just two days before her 31st birthday, coincidentally, the same time she was arrested a year ago. The book serves as a promise to tell her story and the stories of others, shedding light on their experiences in Evin Prison.
“This book is a promise. I have always had a passion for writing, but when I was in Evin I started writing it mentally, because we were not given any paper and pen there. And also speaking with my cellmate, I told her: as soon as I come out of here I won’t tell just my story but the story of all of you. It is important for the world to know. And this was what I did, it was also very therapeutic for me. I wrote everything, it is all there and it allowed me to let go of a lot of pain,” she said in an interview to RaiNews, an Italian news agency.
As she was released, not all her friends were as fortunate. Louis Arnaud, a French companion she was travelling with, remains in detention, facing similar charges to those Alessia was arrested for. The book is dedicated to "Louis and my cellmates" and to every Iranian woman still fighting for her freedom.
Alessia Piperno with Erika Olimpio at her book launch in Rome on October 10, 2023
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