Below is the english translation of a letter Kamran Assa (brother to the beloved martyr, Kianoosh Assa) wrote just days before December 7, 2010, which marks students day in Iran. In this very intimate and poignant letter, you will feel the pain, suffering and injustice that Kamran and his family have endured over these past eighteen months since Kamran was murdered by the islamic regime in Iran.
In the Name of Truth and Reality
The way of the world is one, and it is truth
With great praise towards those who defend human rights in every situation — however difficult. With respect to Cyrus the Great’s slate of human rights — the proud legacy of Iranians that harks their longstanding regard and defense of basic human rights and freedoms. I would like to write about the unjustified spilling of innocent blood—the murder of Kianoosh. I am constantly reliving those harsh and bitter memories. Grief has ever robbed me of peace.
While writing this letter, only a few days remain to 7th of December 2010, a day that is recognized in Iran as Students’ Day. Eighteen months have passed from that bitter fateful day that is forever etched in my mind. I ask myself, what has the world come to?
I can hardly believe that you are no longer amongst us. I have tried to write about Kianoosh many times and have failed.
The cause of death on your death certificate is listed as caused by the violence of others. I still can’t believe that I will never see you again.
Do you remember the year 2000? That year when our financial situation was finally improving, only to be interrupted by the untimely death of our father? Our mother provided for us as best as she could and fulfilled the roles of both mother and father until we were able to stand on our own two feet.
We never forgot our morals and values. Like everyone else who was oppressed, you were attending Green Movement gatherings. There were many obstacles in our way, but we never backed down –we continued to fight oppression. On Sunday, 14th of June 2009, we contacted you several times during the day. Every time you insisted that you were safe and that you were with the rest of your student friends. We later learned that you were actually participating in the demonstrations near Vali Asr square and that you spent the night in the dormitories of Khajeh Nasir University. You had asked your friends to participate in the peaceful demonstrations that were to be held the next day.
On the 15th of June 2009, in order to protest the results of the election, and with the hopes of a recount, you participated in the mass demonstrations that stretched from Imam Hussein Square all the way to Azadi square.
In those moments, when we were running daily chores, your innocent blood was spilled. A bullet hit your chest and you were unjustly killed. I wish that like many others who were injured that day and have since healed, you’d have healed too. You taught your murderers what it really means to be patriotic, to have faith, and to be brave. Defending freedom and human rights robbed you of your youth.
On 15th of June 2009, protesting to the results of election, you marched the streets along with many other people including students, teachers and professors, you attended the demonstration from Imam Hussein Square to Azadi square hoping that at least your demand of at vote recount would be taken up.
While we were busy with our own daily routines, in a very inhumane way, you were violently shot with a bullet, miles away from your home and hometown and dropped in your blood. You may have been hit at the same time when I was elaborating on the liberalism movement of people and criticizing its enemies.
I wish you were at least wounded like many others who were wounded back then but are now at least with us. Alas, you were hit, and you were killed so that we would now be without you. You left us alone.
I don’t know when exactly did that kind heart of yours stop, but I am sure when you were on the ground, overtaken by pain, you were thinking of your family, friends and your ideals. You bid farewell to the promises you had made to our mother and to our family and lonely, pure and just like an angel departed to the other world so that you can teach a lesson of bravery, martyrdom for God, to your murderers. In the way of defending freedom you sacrificed defending your thesis at the university. I have no doubt Azadi-tower [Freedom Tower at Freedom square] was looking at you when you rolled in your blood and promised to tell of your tale for future generations.
From that ominous Monday evening till four days later there was no news of you. On the 19th of June, at Friday noon, anonymous individuals gave us your bloody body to a legal medical division of Tehran.
Dearest Kianoosh! During those four anxious days we were still hoping to find you and embrace you. We were hoping to tell you about our worries, and our pains and tell you how mother has been praying for your return and for your Master’s graduation. Alas, such plans we had in mind.
In those painful gloomy days your sister, Parastoo, and I were wandering around every corner of this big city, Tehran. Let’s not talk about what awful responses that we got from the authorities. Let’s not talk about the way we were treated when following up to find out about you. This is such a long story that if I have enough days in my life, I will turn them into a book.
On the 4th day, I had this strange feeling that something had happened, but I couldn’t accept the weight of my own feelings. When to identify the body, they showed us the picture of your bloody face and we tried to find anything in the picture that would make this be a different person though we couldn’t bear the site of seeing the picture of anyone with a bloody face like that. I would try to console others that this picture is just of someone who happens to look like Kianoosh. I was repeatedly saying that we should go to the prisons and medical examination rooms and keep searching for you. But there was a voice in me that would shout at me to stop deceiving myself. It would scold me that this bloody face is the face of the same hardworking Kianoosh who was a musician and an artist brother to you. The same face that promised to come back very soon to his hometown. I was willing to do anything, any tragedy, but avoid seeing the bloody face of my brother on that ominous Wednesday. But I did see you clearly. You had lain down with closed eyes and bloody mouth without any time to utter even a single word.
Following getting our hands on your picture, on Friday June 24th, with permission of observing your body, Aziz, Parastoo and I were permitted to enter the autopsy saloon to see you. They confiscated our cell phones and let us in. I grabbed Parastoo’s hand and we anxiously, overtaken by fear followed Aziz. As we entered the autopsy room we sat beside a body covered with a sheet with only the face visible. Three people were there. Aziz went near and stood beside them. I didn’t want to go forward, but I moved nearer and thought to myself ‘we still aren’t sure of anything’, be strong. I moved forward carefully and slowly, but despite our wishes and prayers, I saw you laying on the bed. After that I remember nothing! I just remember that guards sent us to the yard from there. There we screamed and shouted to the skies for this great cruel oppression. Whatever we did, was extinguished by the fierce actions of those law-breaking guards.
When we found you we had no power left in us anymore to celebrate your graduation. Your soul had flown away and it was so hard. We embraced your picture, kissed your picture and embraced it again. As we were in Tehran, back in Kermanshah, there was chaos in our house. Mother had been calling many times with no answer, when finally picks the phone up and tells her that Parastoo and I had left our phones in their house. But mother didn’t believe them. In the back and forth, our uncles get home and the rest of the family came too, all of them got together over there. Everyone was anxious and in a panic waiting for a bit of news from you when one of mother’s relatives gave her the news. With everybody there, mother started to cry loudly: “Was my Kianoosh killed? Mother comes down on every member of the family who was there but alas all was too late. What shouldn’t have happened was already done and you were gone.
My home is on fire, with flames that burn the soul,
The fire is burning everywhere and everything,
Every rug, and every curtain, burning every thread that made them…
My home is on fire, with merciless flames
The fire is still burning
Every plan that I had made with hardships
Plans that I made in my head, with eyes, on the doors and on the walls…
It is burning and burning,
All the flowers that I nurtured with hardships
It’s burning them in their deep vases
Hard days of sickness…
Sheltering in the net of night
In tears, I run everywhere
From this injustice
I cry, cry, cry
Everything is over. Our family back home was traumatized while we were running everywhere to get your body to Kermanshah. Because of the Holidays, we only moved your body after a delay, but you finally returned to Kermanshah for the last time.
In the airport, we put your body in the ambulance from the plane, and when we took it down from the ambulance to our home, there was the mass of relatives, friends, neighbors, students and other people who cried and shouted in pain and in agony. Why didn’t you open your eyes? Why didn’t you greet them? Who took this away from you? May he become miserable.
On The Sunday after, in a funeral attended by alot of people, and with a heavy presence of security forces we left you under the soil in the ground. The flowers that we were going to give you for your graduation, withered on your grave. Half of those flowers belonged to mother. This was how [your murders] made us grieve for the rest of our lives.
Prof. Ashrafi, your own professor at the University, invited the family members to the University, but the security forces stopped us from attending that ceremony. During the funeral, and following that on the 40th, your classmates, your neighbors and other Kermanshahians along with different people, Kurds, and non-kurds, Shite and Sunni and people from all around the country attended. There were also people from the NGOs, political activists, poets, environmentalists, writers, journalists, reporters, students, professors, lawyers and many others attended. People attended despite their differences. Despite the heavy presence of security forces, such mass of people attended your ceremonies that the memories of it would forever remain in the people of Kermanshah.
On the ceremonies of the 40th day, thousands attended and their voices chanting “God is Great”, “Today’s a sad day, today’s a sad day.” “My martyr brother, I would bring you justice.” “I will kill, I will kill whoever killed my brother.” Especially in the women’s section there were many heated cries and slogans being shouted. But even this official ceremony turned violent when the head of the security forces detained some of the attendees. They detained the relatives and took them away in their cars. Attendees were hit with batons. Whoever else who would criticize the security forces too would be beaten down. People who were wounded were pepper sprayed, including mother and sister. Although a judge in Kermanshah ordered the release of those detained, the head of the security forces and the plainclothed officers who beat us were never brought to justice.
Days after the fortieth-day anniversary of your passing, after friends and relatives had paid their respects and the ceremonies were over, we began to truly feel the sorrow of your absence. After you left us, each day became more painful; and the sadness… I cannot describe in words.
In 16th of Azar, when the relatives, neighbors, and friends gathered at the cemetery, Bijan Rezaee – your old friend – and I, after speaking to the campus police, tried to install your picture to the chemical engineering college at the University [of Science and Technology] to keep your memory alive. But the security guards interfered and stopped us. We tried to co-operate with them but they would not hear us. Instead, they arrested us and took us to Farjam Police Station 136 near the university and they gave us to the security forces. They interrogated me for 6 hours. What they told me or asked me were completely irrelevant and unconnected to my life. They told me Hashemi Rafsanjani with all his power is helpless in front of us, what do you what to do? Or, they said that this is a Shia country, and that I shouldn’t try because I won’t get anywhere.
The next day in a 3 minute conversation, they told me that my records stated that I had set fire to garbage cans, and that I was charged with creating disorder in public and interfering with public safety. They had my arrest warrant, and that afternoon, I was taken to the famous Evin Prison, along other detainees. I was kept in a 5-person cell that looked as though it would have been used for solitary confinement. After that, I was taken to the public Andarzgah of Evin where I spent my time with university students, intellectuals, and other educated people whose company would benefit anyone.
On January 5th, 2010, they tied my hands and feet with heavy shackles and chains and threw me onto the back of a large truck with murderers and felons. I was being transported to Karaj’s Ghezelhesar Prison. I was kept with dangerous felons, drug dealers, addicts, and murderers. They fed me very little food and kept me in rooms with completely unsanitary and unbearable conditions. The rooms were no bigger than six meters square and typically contained 10 prisoners. The conversation in the cells usually revolved around the many crimes other inmates had committed in the past. It was particularly painful to deal with the more senior felons who were appointed by the prison personnel to watch over me. Anytime I tried to defend myself, it worked to my disadvantage.
I was kept outside in the mornings. It was so cold that I would loose the ability to stand. I had caught a cold and would shake all night from coldness, as there were no means to warm myself up. I was denied even hot water when I was sick. When I asked to be sent to the medical center, they denied my request because I had already used the medical facilities when I had heart problems earlier.
My cell was inhabited by a large number of insects. It was pointless to try to fight them. I also couldn’t use the beds in the cell, as they were reserved for the more senior felons who were regularly pissed off at me because my apparent lack of knowledge about narcotics. My cellmates did give me a little doll with the letter “F” (F for Freedom) inscribed on it as a gift when I was being sent home. I had to go to the hospital right after I was freed from prison. Unfortunately, my hospital records were stolen right after I was diagnosed. During my captivity, the family and Dr. Saleh Nikbakht (your lawyer before you passed away) spent their days following up my case with the judiciary in order to free me from prison.
Dear Kianoosh! STU (Science and Technology University) and Razi University students publicly mourned your loss and held a public demonstration in your memory despite all the limitations. June 26th, 2009 when I was waiting outside the morgue, your friends continually called me in shock, disbelief, and sadness. Two days later, the press picked up on your story. After that, the student body organized a demonstration in your memory and to protest against your unjust murder. Hundreds shouted “Allah Akbar”, “Students will face death but not disrespect”, and “Dear Kianoosh, we shall continue on your path” while carrying around your picture. The university management found out about this and tried to interfere by organizing an event of their own that was not attended by many students.
Students tried to convey the voice of your innocence to all Iranians and to the whole world.
In Kermanshah, Razi University students held a sit-in demonstration during which some of the participants were detained. At STU, one of the officials could not keep his mouth shut and rudely said untrue statements about you after your death. They also installed a big poster in the university that tries to say you killed yourself and blamed it on the government in order to help foreigners somehow gain power and influence in Iran!
Dear Kianosh! Rest assured that your friends will respond to any insults spread by the authorities to your memory and mission as they have done so already.
During this time, it has become obvious that holding any sort of ceremony for your remembrance would need a governmental permit that will not be issued. It has also become apparent that attacking your supporters by various parties will never be stopped by the authorities or prosecuted by the judiciary.
In addition to STU and Razi University, a number of other institutions and student bodies including the Islamic Committee of Pharmacy Students at Tehran University and Students of Biochemistry at the Tehran University have written in your support. They have been with us in this tough journey. Seeing these fine men and women make me feel that your spirit lives through them.
Newspapers that remembered you as a martyr were shut down, and students who wanted to pay respects in the cemetery were called in and were intimidated by the university officials and the security forces.
Kianoosh, mourning your passing by students has caused the arrest of tens of students until mid November 2010. Hundreds have been called for questioning and have received warnings or have been troubled by the security forces.
Dear Kianoosh! Last year went by painstakingly slow without you. Tehran Security forces came to Kermanshah before the one-year anniversary of your passing, and illegally abducted me as I was leaving from our sister, Jamaleh’s house. I believe this was done to scare people interested in attending your ceremony.
The day after my arrest, they came to our house in Kermanshah with a warrant this time, searched the house, tore the pictures of the late Darius and Parvaneh Forouhar in your room, and pointed to our sister Parisa, in displeasure, annoyed with the fact that she’s literate, and mentioned that they also have a warrant for her arrest, establishing that they could take her with them if they wanted to.
In the ten days that I was detained in solitary confinement at Kermanshah’s Intelligence Services Compounds, I was interrogated often. One of the crimes I had apparently committed was to attempt to write a letter to the head of Judiciary, Ayatollah Larijani.
I was awakened in the middle of one night and forced to sign some documents, they wouldn’t tell me what I was signing then or afterwards when I asked them about the matter.
Ten days later, my friends Hamid and Afshin Mosibian and I were taken to a court, we were then taken to Dizel Abad Prison, and were freed, a couple of days before the anniversary of your passing.
Security forces tried to stop the ceremonies in honor of the one-year anniversary of your passing. They approached all the family members and friends and pressured and intimidated them so that they wouldn’t go to your ceremony. Starting from a week before the ceremony, they controlled all the incoming and outgoing traffic in our neighbourhood and intimidated our visitors. They also pressured the Mosque and Banquet hall in which we wanted to hold the ceremonies into not allowing us to use their facilities. They also told us we were not allowed to distribute posters to inform people about the ceremony. They went as far as telling us, they would raid any public ceremony commemorating your passing.
Inevitably, the ceremony was held at home , as is the annual custom. Maestro Seyed Mehrdad Moshashaei played Tanboor [a mystical and tradition Iranian instrument that is played like a guitar] and the attendants accompanied him by singing along. It was truly a touching and mystical ceremony. Of course, the ceremonies were still under the heavy watch of the security forces, they were filming us from the neighbors’ houses, and from the streets. They even arrested two family members who attended the ceremony. They also filmed everyone who came to the cemetery to pay their respect. Funny how the cameras weren’t able to capture the face of those who spilled acid on your tomb thinking that it will fade away your memories.
They issued a warning to the institutions that printed posters of you. They even abducted an employee working for one of the institutions, beat him up, and later let him go!
And there were those who entered our social circle just to spy on us and send often made-up stories to the security forces hoping to make a buck.
But despite all the restrictions, many intellectuals, local tribesmen, friends, family members, mothers of other martyrs in the current events, women’s rights’ movements, poets, writers, artists, members of the NGOs, and political, social, cultural activists, were amongst us in our ceremony of your one-year anniversary of passing. We all whispered together: “Don’t live till you die, die for life.”
Meanwhile, our brother, Aziz, has been summoned several times to the security organizations and our sister, Parastoo, has been threatened with losing her job and being arrested. I personally was arrested and imprisoned twice which made me miss my final university exams.
On September 7th, 2010, I and five of our other family members were arrested during a meeting with Mohandes Mirhossein Mosavi and his wife, Dr. Zahra Rahnavard. All of us were interrogated for as long as seven hours while our eyes were closed. During the last year and half, our family members were constantly threatened by official and non-official forces. On the other hand, there have been some people from official organizations and security forces in Iran who have helped us. Though many local newspapers were irresponsible and unattentive to current events, there have been few newspapers, such as weekly Neda e Jame’e who reflected part of our story and were able to soothe our pain.
Dear Kianoosh, every Monday and Thursday and on any public holiday we pay our respect to you at the cemetery, to show that we will never recognize this regime as a legitimate government and we will not be fooled by their hypocritical gestures.
Despite all media restrictions in Iran, we have expressed our opinions on many occasions: that the reason you attended the Azadi rally after the election was to protest against the terrible situation our people are in. It is because you felt responsible for the society you lived in. Otherwise, you would have stayed in school and worked to build a successful future.
Political change usually happens to those, who for years have pursued knowledge with good intentions, and who come to the stage to fight when they see that current events are contrary to their beliefs. Human rights laws that are respected internationally are the legacies of those who have fought for them and upholding them is a responsibility for all people and governments. We are not part of a political group and we have never been. But we know exactly what our rights are and we know that this murder was a human rights violation and was against the laws of our country. Nobody has the right, under whatever circumstance, (in private clothes, with or without government endorsement), to disobey the law or to violate even the most basic human rights. Even worse when it is about making a decision of whether someone gets to keep their life.
We ask from all those who fight for human rights and political freedoms to help us fight this violation in the court of law.
We believe that the spilled blood of the innocent, will come back to haunt those who spilled it. After seeing this injustice, those who take it upon themselves to fight to restore justice will never rest.
I will never forget the guard’s insult who said: “you must kill these non-Muslims…their blood is halal.” The police’s insult towards the millions of people who showed up for a peaceful demonstration will forever remain in our memories. The murder of the most gifted university student, who was one of the most upstanding youths of this country, is an unforgivable sin and its denial to foreigners is a disgusting lie.
Our hopes rest first with God, and second with our honorable and righteous judges.
The help and hard work of those who go above and beyond to ensure that this country is safe, secure, and going in the right direction and upholding the rule of law is greatly appreciated and we count ourselves in their camp.
I ask for help from all activist groups whether they are affiliated with universities, with social work groups, or with political groups to pursue what really happened in the case of my brother’s death. I would like to find out what were the hidden consequences (angle’s?) of this atrocious crime. They said that they will repay our losses –but what money could possibly bring Kianoosh back?
We are not after money; we just want to make sure that Kianoosh didn’t die in vain. I have faith that the innocent cries of those who perished will bring those responsible to justice. The blood of those innocent souls is testament to the bravery of those who will not back down from fighting for their morals, values and human rights.
Our dreams were forgotten with innocent Kianoosh on June 28, 2009. Now our wish is to see Kianoosh’s friends succeed and we hope that the society will follow a path in which scientific, cultural, social, and political responsibilities are assumed by people who really care for the society and whom are qualified.
We ask Kianoosh’s friends, colleauges and comrades to send us a copy of any pictures, films, or hand written documents they might have from him.
With the permission of the professors and students in our universities, and considering the fact that the 6th of December is the day in which universities and the society express their solidarity, we would ask that this in this year’s December 6th ceremonies at the STU, we all mourn Kianoosh’s passing in the hope that such horrible atrocities will not happen again.
My kind brother, I feel an unbreakable bond with you. I leave it up to people, even those who have an opposite political view than us to further look into the case of your murder, and I leave it up to the families of martyrs, veterans, and those who have sacrificed for this country to judge who’s responsible. It is necessary for our countrymen who don’t think like we do to look at the different angles of the crime of your murder that has taken such a huge toll on us and come up with a conclusion.
Dear Kianoosh, I believe that it is now the time to say what has been unsaid before and ask what has not been asked. The big pain of your absence will always be with me, the little brother. I bid you farewell, and hope that we shall stay on course to achieving what you sacrificed your life for.