Imprisoned journalist Siyamak Ghaderi has written a letter to Faezeh Hashemi, the imprisoned daughter of former president Hashemi Rafsanjani, in response to a letter she published from prison ( here ) highlighting the positive aspects of being in prison.
Journalist Siyamak Ghaderi was arrested August of 2010 and is sentenced to four years imprisonment on charges of propagating against the establishment and publishing lies.
One of Ghaderi’s main charges was writing on his blog “Irnaima”. On his blog he criticized the Islamic Republic’s official news agency IRNA. He also wrote articles in support of the Green Movement and it’s leaders.
Following is translation of Ghaderi’s letter to Faezeh Hashemi:
Consider not that God is unaware of the deeds of the unjust, He is merely granting them respite until the Day when the eyes will stare in horror (Ebrahim, verse 42)
To my imprisoned sister, Faezeh Hashemi,
My sister, Faezeh,
Your letter was one of the few documents and letters written by a political prisoner that was published in the censored media atmosphere of Iran.
It was a source of wonder and amazement for us, the political prisoners, that normally hear only bits and pieces of news from our loved ones.
I read parts of your letter in a Resalat newspaper article written by Kazem Anbarlouei dated December 17, and painfully praised your compassionate tone and spirit of resistance.
My intention is not to vilify the parts of your letter published on this newspaper. But there were some very important points in your letter which were welcomed by the one sided media, that caused me to write a few lines about it.
In particular I would like to stress, although we share the same geographical position in captivity, there are noted differences in our history, from the start until now and the time in between.
Specifically, the use of phrases such as: “Honest Reporting”, “Here democracy reigns”, “Here is a university”, “Here is filled with beautiful memories”, “Here is the school of love”, and “Honest Affidavit”.
And then that article’s conclusion that Ahmed Shaheed’s reports are fictitious and false, and ultimately the article criticizing the Judiciary for creating a “Hotel” atmosphere and “Ideal living environment for the criminals” for the violators of the rights of 75 million people.
This bothered me enough to decide to write about my personal experienced during the three years of imprisonment in Wards, 209, 240 and 350, and to write only about parts of what I have witnessed and seen with my own eyes and heard with my own ears.
Dear sister, you forgot to mention the frightful arrests made in the middle of the night or at dawn, before the frightened eyes of the innocent spouses and children and before the stunned neighbors.
You forgot to mention, the months and months of being moved from the cell to the bathroom, recess, shower, the interrogation room, the prosecution’s office and the court. And, even being transported through the city blindfolded.
You have left out the life draining screams of men coming from the interrogation room across from Section Six in Ward 209.
In the fall of 2010 I heard the screams of a mother in this same room that would fall unconscious under the interrogations. And I heard the cries of an innocent baby after hearing the mother’s familiar cries in Section One of this same building.
Have you seen or heard about the interrogation rooms in Ward 209 that are decorated with thick dried blood on the walls and floor?
You probably have never heard the voice of one of your loved ones while blindfolded facing a wall being interrogated?
Were you in that position to realize that they brought your loved one to the interrogation room to break you, and to help realize the scenarios made up by the sick minds of the interrogators?
Did you ever feel with your skin and bones and your entire being, the humiliation caused by the interrogators and the guards, or the burning sensation on your face after being slapped?
Have you ever felt the putrefied content of a steel toilet in Ward 240 interrogation room while your head was being pushed in the toilet and your eyes, ears and mouth filled with feces?
Have the investigator in your case, along with the interrogators, ever thrown profane insults at your mother, father, children and your spouse?
Have you ever in disbelief been accused of lying and slander by the infamous Judges of Branch 28 and 15 of the Revolutionary Courts when you dared to cry out the atrocities committed against you, in the hopes of receiving justice from the presiding Judge?
Have you dear sister ever suffered having to be with drug traffickers, with those who have betrayed the public’s wealth, or with the thugs in rooms 5/1 and 5/2?
Do you know the feeling of having to beg for a phone call to your family just to let them know you are not dead, to free them from having to check the hospitals, the police stations and the coroners office looking for you? And for your interrogators to only agree to allow you a phone call subject to your compliance with their made up scenarios of the imaginary enemies?
Have you requested to be allowed a visit from your lawyer, or to be allowed to sign a power of attorney for your chosen defense attorney and not a court appointed attorney, and that three years after the verdict you are still wishing for that meeting?
Did you along with me, in the people’s protest movement, comprehend the concept of the game “Your sentence is death” and afterwards be interrogated time and time again, and the sleepless nights to participate in this game with the interrogator?
Can you believe that a number of my cellmates without having a defense attorney and without being able to see the court’s ruling and without knowing the reason’s for the lower court’s ruling have filed for an appeal?
Do you even know what being banned from visits for months means? Have they put you on display before your loved ones, among handcuffed and shackled hard core criminals and thieves, in the hallways of the Revolutionary Court, or the hospital?
Has his Excellency Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani ever been humiliated and insulted by the security forces of various intelligence apparatuses “just doing their jobs”?
Yes dear sister, today, the women’s section of Ward 350 is a good environment, but the way to this Paradise that you described in your letter goes through hell.
Ward 350 and the women’s section in this ward, in 2012, is very different from this same Ward in 2009, 2010, and…
In these same very tiny room that, in your report, you mentioned Kazem Anbarlouei calling them a hotel, 10-15 people slept on the floor.
I am speaking of the memories from 2009 until a year ago. I am not talking about these same rooms that, in the 80’s, when there was only enough room for everyone to sleep while standing.
Dear sister, the “hotel” that the coup government has provided the incarcerated freedom seekers, is limited to an old building with crowded rooms that lacks the minimum necessities. From all the amenities that this “hotel” has, only the building belongs to the Prison Bureau.
The Deed to everything else, the televisions, carpets, refrigerators, cooking appliances, air conditioners, library items, all the stationary in the cultural and educational classroom you described in your report, such as tables and chairs, white board, the students and the instructors, all belong to the prisoners and their families, who have provided these with their steadfastness and resistance.
Trust that the prison’s share from these facilities and amenities are the doors and walls, barbed wires, locks, unsanitary lavatories, useless bathrooms, rusty pipes and old sewage.
But the prisoner’s shares are: repairing the damages, opening the sewage pipes each week, extracting the sewage waste by hand and transferring it to the outside of prison, and the cost of all the cleaning belongs to the prisoners.
My sister, in this “hotel”, or the “ideal city”, that was described in the editorial in Resalat newspaper, the prisoners’ share of the prison food is; carrying the heavy pots that contain useless and nutritionally poor food to the Ward, and then taking the trash bins full of the same food outside.
Our share is a variety of illnesses and injuries left from the interrogations that we and our families are left with the cost of treatment.
But you are right, here everyone is fine, and have somewhat relatively basic amenities and the ability to solve the problems of their Ward.
Educational classes and lectures are held. And freedom, this elixir of subsistence, relatively exists in the Wards.
However, you have forgotten to mention what high price has been paid by tens of prisoners who now are in exile in medieval prisons for sustaining this freedom.
And even now, for their insistence on the right to freedom of expression, many prisoners being moved between Wards 209, 2A, 240 and the court.
There are many cellmates that, for their insistence of exercising the same rights, have been sentenced to additional 1, 2, 3, or 5 years imprisonment.
Yes dear sister, that freedom does exist in this ideal city but it’s cost is our enchainment. If we were to heed submission and silence there would have not been any need for prison and enchainment.
If this freedom exists in prison – which it does – is at the high cost of condemnation of their ideology and the loss of the opportunity to be with their families.
By the way, I wish you would had thought about asking your cellmates and your enchained neighbors about their time in detention. You should have asked Abolfazl Ghadyani how many more years does he have to pay as the cost of his freedom of speech, after he had already completed his one year sentence?
You should have asked Tajzadeh why the worshipers of darkness are so frightened of transferring him to the General Ward?
You should have asked Saeed Madani what was the reason for incarcerating him in solitary confinement in Ward 209?
You should have asked Zhilla and Bahman (incarcerated journalist couple) what does it feel like to be denied visits with your spouse? You should have asked Shiva (Nazarahari) what dog cage means?
You should have asked Kobra why she was exiled to the notorious Gharchak prison? You should have asked Mrs. Banazadeh in what part of prison did she lose her eye sight?
You should have asked Arash Sadeghi how he endured the loss of his mother, which was caused by being frightened during the raid of his home? And, at what dungeon is he being kept now, after he complained to the Judge?
Dear Faezeh, my fellow with the same pain and same fate;
Have any of your children, like Mohamad Reza Moghayesh’s son, celebrated their marriage on the other side of Evin walls, because of his father’s stance on his ideals?
God forbid, have any of your loved ones passed away during your incarceration, like Sayed Mohamad Ebrahimi and Asghar Mahmoudian, and you were not even permitted a phone call to extend condolences to the rest of the family?
Do you hear the voice of a dear friend from the adjoining cell everyday for months and hope that the jailers will allow at least a half hour visit for these two prisoners?
Has an animal like Osat (Intelligence Ministry’s interrogator) ever told your husband just as he did to Alireza Rejaei’s wife; get a divorce and free yourself from life with a political prisoner?
Have you felt the pain of being under house arrest like Mousavi, Rahnavard and Karoubi, and not being allowed to be among the other incarcerated people with the same path and ideals?
Have they punished your twelve year old daughter like they did Nasrin Sotoudeh’s daughter?
Yes, prison today is a university, but we must not forget that this has become possible by incarcerating hundreds of elite thinkers and scholars who came to this place for refusing to bow down to oppression.
My sister, I praise your standing and resistance during the protests. I respect you for not abusing your famous credible last name. I respect you for not accepting a release on furlough and view you as being, among the other political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, a bit of remedy for the wounds of discrimination and injustice.
But, do you know that the same charge of propagating against the establishment and participation in the street protest, that has brought you the unjust sentence of six months imprisonment, has brought others at least six years imprisonment?
Have you forgotten how your brother Mehdi, while undergoing diagnoses in a hospital, and against the doctors advice, was kidnapped and returned to prison?
Yes it is true, here is the school of love. Yes, for those who have an ideology and a goal, even in Wards 2A, 209 and 240 that claim victims every day, this can be a beautiful place.
Yes dear sister, you have humbly viewed and described the half-filled glass from a positive perspective. But, know that the half-filled glass is not filled with water, but the tears of the spouses and children of the political prisoners.
It is the agony and the suffering of the political prisoners that has filled that half. That half glass has been filled with the tears of the boys and girls that have been denied being with their parents while growing from being a child to adolescence and teen-hood.
My sister, all of these atrocities and injustice are a reality. We must see them as they are, and not more and not less, and we must shout them out so our children do not become entrapped in it’s rope.
It is true that we must ridicule the system of oppression and injustice, and laugh at it’s prisons, and see it as a phase in the evolution of humanity. But we must not provide a venue for the tyrants who’s hands are still stained with the blood of Sattar (Beheshti), to enable them to deny and call false, the human rights reports and the efforts of the people who promote human rights around the world.
Let us not forget that, within the last 2-3 years eighteen prisoners have been killed by various methods in the prisons across the country. I am not talking about the ones who were executed. These deaths were not the result of negligence. Reports of human rights on the one hand, and the audacity and cruelty are the result of ignorance.
Yes dear sister, wishing you always steadfastness and honor, for disgrace and weakness is deserved by those who consider human rights a game and with various excuses mock and ridicule it.
They do not comprehend that human rights are the principle for human dignity, for the people of today and tomorrow. A principle that we will not easily close our eyes and forget.
Yes my sister, thousands and millions like me, like you with your doubtless efforts and struggles, and those who could have remained passive and benefited from the existing power structure, did not, but chose the path of human dignity and religious and national responsibility.
They know well, just as they consider their goals majestic and noble, they are willing to sacrifice their lives.
December 18, 2012