Majid Dori, the imprisoned *starred student banned from continuing his education, was recently exiled from Evin to Behbahan prison, a [location] that is one thousand kilometers away from the residence of his parents. Majid will now have to complete the remaining five years of his prison sentence in Behbahan. In his latest letter, however, Majid does not speak of the thousand kilometers distance between him and his parents. Instead, he informed them that he is not alone.
Majid told his family that he no longer feels alone; that he is amongst the warm and kindhearted Behbahani’s who are happy to meet a freedom-fighting student activist and have accepted him with open arms. Though Majid Dori has traveled kilometers, he cries out loud: “I am not a stranger here, I don’t feel as though I am in exile. I salute you from behind the thick walls of Behbahan prison and say: “I too am a Behbahani. The citizens of Behbahan have accepted me with open arms.”
The complete content of Majid Dori’s letter is as follows:
The Behbahani People Have Broken My Solitude
May he who stands in the way of you and I becoming us, see his home destroyed;
In the name of freedom; the freedom which I roared and for which I was deprived of a right to eduction;
In the name of freedom; the freedom which I screamed and for which I was imprisoned;
In the name of freedom; the freedom which I uttered and for which I was sent to exile…
In the name of freedom; the freedom that once tasted, [now] makes you immune to chains, imprisonment, exile and execution;
I salute freedom! I salute the innocent blood that was shed in its pursuit;
I salute the lives we lost for the cause of freedom.
On Saturday morning, they transferred me from Evin to Behbahan prison. I have been charged with Moharebeh “enemy of God” and sentenced in Judge PirAbasi’s courtroom; a courtroom where my lawyers and I were deprived of the opportunity to present a defense.
Receiving the Moharebeh sentence evokes fear in any human being. I became a Mohareb because I refused to live like an animal. If defending the right to education, the undeniable and inalienable right of every individual is waging war against God, then I am a Mohareb. If helping political prisoners, if showing compassion and sympathy toward their families is waging war against God, then I am a Mohareb. If publishing the names of those who have been killed and arrested and obtaining legal representation for those who have been arrested without cause and taken to undisclosed locations by unknown individuals is waging war against God, then I am a Mohareb. Yes, I am a Mohareb. No matter when or where, I am proud to be a Mohareb; this war is worth fighting as it is in the pursuit of freedom.
Do you believe that if people hear that I have provided comfort to families of political prisoners, supported a lonely prisoner, and published the names of those who have been killed and arrested, then they will belittle and humiliate me? Do you truly believe that incarceration and exile can stand in the way of humanity?
Those who came to power as a result of fraud, lies and denial and have entrenched themselves through suppression and intimidation will resort to anything in order to remain in power. Those who view every humane act as evil, every critical thought as an act by a Mohareb, and every innovative idea as destructive have no choice but to use endless suppression as a tool to silence the masses.
Here is to a new dawn that will bury the darkness in the dungeons of history, ensuring that the perpetrators of these crimes are brought to justice. May God help those who must stand before the people tomorrow and be accountable for their inhumane acts. If only they would at minimum adhere to the slogans they chant to others and the laws they so often make references to; if only they would practice what they preach and what they claim to be legal.
I have now been transferred to Behbahan prison in southern Iran, a prison that lacks medical and cultural facilities. When I first arrived I never believed that I would be able to continue, to endure the conditions in a prison where prisoners co-exist regardless of their crimes. I didn’t think I could survive in a prison where there are no political prisoners, where most prisoners have committed crimes such as murder, drug trafficking and theft. I thought I would be alone and out of place…
But the warm and familiar voices of the Behbahani’s warmed the frozen blood in my veins. When the Behbahani’s came to the prison gate on visitation day and asked to see me, the thousand kilometer distance between me and my family was no longer unbearable.
I was no longer alone. I no longer feel as though I am in exile. Today from behind the thick walls of this prison I pay my respect to every single one of them and say to my parents, “Father, mother, I am not alone here. My Behbahani fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters shattered my feeling of loneliness and exile. I can now proudly cry out, I too am a Behbahani! The citizens of Behbahan have accepted me with open arms. I salute their honor and dignity!”
I look forward to the day that as a result of our efforts and suffering, you and I become us…..
November 2010 Behbahan Prison
*Editor’s Note: The system of issuing stars against students was developed by Iran’s Ministry of Advanced Education so students with disciplinary issues would get penalized. After a student collects a certain number of stars, he or she is banned from education. The system is primarily used against student activists.