Bahareh Hedayat is a member of the Office for Strengthening Unity (Tahkim Vahdat), an Iranian student organization created in 1979. She was arrested last December for the fifth time and has been sentenced to 9 ½ years in prison. Her sentence is the longest prison term given to a member of the union formed amongst Iran’s Islamic Associations (the Office for Strengthening Unity) since the establishment of this student organization around the country. Since her incarceration, she has several times been transferred to solitary confinement and interrogated while placed under heavy pressures.
Bahareh Hedayat has written the following letter on the occasion of Iran’s Student Day commemorated on December 7, 2010 (16 Azar 1389):
It has not been long since the last goodbye and our passionate battle cry together to overcome the darkness. We intended to strive with a long stride to reach the shores of light and love. We thought, at last, there will be an end to our distress and suffering, and it won’t be long till freedom will be within our people’s reach.
With our hearts together, we united and although disadvantaged in an unfair battle, we fought against tyranny with empty hands. Not only in the streets but also in our hearts, we chose to be calm and collected, but when confronted with cruelty, our sorrows multiplied. Until such a day as flowers blossom far and wide and the breeze of knowledge blows from every town and village, we envisioned our universities full of colorful and scented flower arches, not prison cells.
In our dreams, there are no barbed wires or iron gates keeping us from entering our schools. There are no private notices sent to expel students, and the shadow of fear has soared away from our universities. The professors are not banned from teaching, and our schoolmates, no longer resonating full of regret, are not summoned for questioning.
My schoolmates, we are worn out but have neither bent nor broken. We continue to stand erect, although with wounded and restless hearts. We bear witness to the efforts of dictators looting a fertile land nurtured by the selfless sacrifices of past and present generations.
The injustice imposed on Iran’s universities, our motherland and her children is the last efforts of dark hearted individuals who cannot rest peacefully any longer because the youths in Iran have a vision to free our nation. I wish our sweet dreams were no one’s nightmares. Alas, we are dealing with individuals who utter nothing but falsehoods and wish to mar us with each other’s treachery and revenge. Be forewarned in dealing with this evil to guard your conscience and stay true. Otherwise, you have opened your heart to hatred and have chosen to follow the dark path.
My patient brothers and brave sisters, winter has once again brought us the month of Azar (December), a month that was ours to strike at the heart of darkness, a month that will always be ours. The cold, brick walls of Evin prison with its endless days and nights attempt in vain to put distance between you and me, but I still remember all the bygone Student Days we spent together and longed for green, bright sunny days of the future.
Although they have erected a wall between us, I am still with my schoolmates, and by their side, hand in hand, we sing the same songs and raise our fists in the air to shout that the love between us may not be tarnished by any obstacles. Sadness and loneliness have no place in my heart because our empathy for each other is untainted.
These perpetual, sad and cold days and nights will surely end forever someday so that the hopeful promise of life surrounds us all over. There is no doubt in my mind that in our bright future, we will breathe in a free country while celebrating our liberty together. Reaching for the blue skies, we will greet the sunlight once again in our universities and all over this land that will be free, free, and free at last. Since that day is near, let us reject any doubts we may have. We must believe in this and stand up like before, informed and hopeful.
I’m coming, coming, coming
With my locks, flowing scented soil of underground
With my eyes, enduring the depth of darkness
With the heath, harvested beyond…
I’m coming, coming, coming
To fill the surroundings with love
And to those who desire
To the girl still standing at the brink, full of love,
I will say hello again…
Translation by Laleh Gillani, Persian2English
Note: It was the video below that Bahareh released in November 2009 in advance of Student’s Day in which she addressed the European Union about the violence and injustice being perpetrated on the Iranian students that prompted her arrest, conviction and sentence.