Daughter of former president Hashemi Rafsanjani, Faezeh Hashemi, has written a letter from inside prison describing the atmosphere of the women’s ward in Evin prison, calling it a school of love and a university for learning and practicing democracy.
Faezeh Hashemi was arrested on September 22 of this year in a raid of her home at 12 midnight and transferred to Evin prison.
She is sentenced to six months in prison and a five year ban on membership in any political party or groups and any journalistic activity on charges of insulting the Islamic Republic.
Bellow is the translation of her letter:
Here is prison, with all it’s pressures, restrictions, hardships and difficulties. Mothers separated from their children, husbands and wives separated from each other, brothers and sisters separated from each other, families shattered.
New brides that, before they had a taste of married life, were sent to prison. Infants that, either from moment of birth or shortly after birth, have been deprived of having their mother or father or both with them. Young girls that were sent to prison from behind their desk in a university.
Elderly mothers that are here solely because of their children’s political ideology or for having had visited them (referring to parents that visited their children in MEK camp in Iraq). Women who endure the death of their loved ones with choked tears and are not allowed to see them in the last moment of their lives.
And add to these, the punishment of the families on account of the prisoners and the punishment of the prisoners on account of their families.
Disallowing necessary phone calls. Imposing stricter conditions, tightened the rules and added pressure, with the aim of making prison more intolerable; using various excuses and strange and unreasonable decisions by the officials, with the intent of creating more control and tension.
But despite all the limitations, the women political prisoners in Evin willingly endure these hardships and for the benefit of their ideology, aspire to change these adversities into opportunities. And, with the practicing of democracy in this small environment, they bring the promise of liberty.
Here Freedom Rules: Things that, in the current situation, are virtually impossible outside of prison, here are part of normal and ordinary affairs.
Holding of meetings on the current affairs covering a variety of issues. Meetings to plan for the future. Meetings for the management of the Ward and making decisions to deal with the pressures and constraints of the prison. Releasing statements of protests, collective acts to protest, singing of anthems and chanting to protest.
Here Democracy Rules: Here all decisions are made collectively, each person has a vote. Everyone, equally and with strong incentives, participates in decision makings. There are no leaders or guardians, and everyone is free to express their opinion.
Here Discussions Rule: Political dialogues on various religions, all religions and political ideologies and thoughts are present.
Muslim, Christian, Baha’i, secular movement, the Mojahedin (MEK), leftists and……Here everyone respects the opinion of others. While everyone is committed to their beliefs, but give each other the chance to speak up and carry on a dialogue.
Here Is A University: A university that, at no time and no place, will be formed outside of the prison. You see, hear and learn things that can not be seen, felt or comprehend in any classroom, meeting, gathering or conference.
You amass experiences similar to those spoken of by the released prisoners, or in historical books, and memoirs of others, that bit by bit engulf your being.
Here Is The Place For Self Improvement: From early dawn to late at night your time is so filled that you run out of time to complete some of them.
Individual and group book readings. Foreign language classes, translation classes, writing classes, writing and reciting poetry, cultural and sports activities, hand crafted artifacts that are reminiscent of the hardships in prison and filled with beautiful memories.
We all learn from each other. Every one offers their knowledge to others. Here the feeling of emptiness and futility no longer exist.
Here Is The School Of Love: Deep friendships form here, the feeling of participation and a sense of helping others, giving and sacrifice, sympathy and cooperation, kindness and compassion, honesty and transparency, sensitivity and warm heartedness, selflessness, love and compassion.
Whatever you possess, willingly and with all your heart you offer to others. We all are united. Being released or being granted furlough is accompanied with tears and the sorrow of separation from friends and compatriots.
Happy for other’s happiness and sufferings for other’s heartaches. The more that they enforce pressures and restrictions and hardships, the more solidarity, love and compassion it creates.
Here Are A Wealth Of Valuable Humans: The presence of educated women thinkers, well read and informed, with purpose and a platform, with courage and determination, steadfast and firm, brave and courageous, resourceful, initiative and creative, is a godsend for the prisoners, and is a missed opportunity for management and development of our country, Iran, that has been deprived of these capabilities and talents.
Until you have not come to prison, you are worried about what kind of place you are going? Is your time going to be wasted? Therefore, you may conduct yourself in a manner that wouldn’t make you end up in prison.
But after you arrive here, despite all the hardships in this cage, you are influenced. Not only do you easily endure the anguishes of prison, but after being released, are more determined and more steadfast as you continue on your path.
For there is no longer a fear of prison, sometimes you even become nostalgic about the memories and your friends.
Perhaps it’s not a bad idea for all those who fight for an ideology or a purpose to spend some time in prison, how ever short that may be. Of course you may be able to plan your coming in here, but leaving here is another matter.