Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Letter from Iranian Political Prisoners to Brazilian President Lula da Silva

Translator’s Note: Five Iranian political prisoners including Mansour Osanloo, the leader of the Tehran Bus Workers Union and Isa Saharkhiz, a reformist journalist have called on president Lula da Silva to exert pressure on the Iranian government to release all political prisoners. Although a translated version of this letter has been published on the Internet, its substance strays in several respects from the original. I am providing my own translation for the sake of accuracy.

Letter from Iranian Political Prisoners to President Lula da Silva
Translated by Frieda Afary

Honorable President Da Silva:

We the signatories and endorsers of this letter know that you have traversed a difficult road to democracy -- from the grassroots level of union struggles to the level of the nationwide Brazilian workers' federations and the arena of global politics -- with the support of the votes of the democratic and freedom-loving people of Brazil.

As a group of union and syndicate activists, political activists, and activists promoting various creeds, we have been incarcerated in the prisons of the Islamic Republic solely for having performed our union and professional duties and for our votes and opinions.

We are aware that you have defended the rights of an Iranian woman and mother [Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, sentenced to death, originally by stoning] and were even prepared to offer her asylum. Having witnessed your humanitarian attitude, we were compelled to ask of you the following: In order to become better acquainted with the Iranian authorities who present themselves as your friends, ask them to take measures to observe our human rights and freedom. Although their attitude and response to [the demand] for the release of the aforementioned woman already gives you and the world a flavor of what these gentlemen consider to be respect for human rights.

Your Excellency Da Silva, as a part of the labor-intellectual representatives of various unions and professions, we ask the following of you, a member of various labor unions and federations and one of the leaders of the major nations of the world, and specifically of Latin America with its famed record of seeking freedom and justice. Ask the Iranian authorities who present themselves as your friends to free all union, labor, and political prisoners and prisoners promoting various creeds. By making such a friendly demand, you will gain a better understanding of these authorities.

In conclusion, we send you and the people of Brazil our best wishes for further success.

Long live the international solidarity of toilers and freedom fighters.

Mansour Osanloo
Heshmatollah Tabarzadi
Rasoul Bodaghi
Reza Rafie
Isa Saharkhiz

August 23, 2010
This translation was originally published by Tehran Bureau

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Monday, August 9, 2010

Appeals to Iran’s Hunger Strikers

Translator’s Note: For the past two weeks, 17 political prisoners in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison have been on a hunger strike to protest constant abuse, solitary confinement, lack of phone call rights and family visits, lack of access to medical care, books and newspapers. So far, only one hunger striker, photojournalist Babak Bordbar has been released. The remaining hunger strikers include student activist Majid Tavakoli and young human rights activist Koohyar Goodarzi. In addition to protests by the families of these prisoners, a group of political prisoners including Mansour Ossanloo of the Tehran Bus Workers Union and Issa Saharkhiz, a reformist journalist have issued an open letter to urge the strikers to end their hunger strike. The letter states: “the democracy-seeking Green Movement needs capable forces and prolific youth like you to build a free Iran.” The “Green Convergence of the Women’s Movement of Iran,” has urged the strikers to end their strike in order to “achieve their ideals in full health.” Reformist leaders, Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi have also expressed their support for the demands of the hunger strikers and have urged them to end their strike. Below are excerpts from an appeal by a young woman political prisoner at Evin prison. Her letter was originally published by the Rahana News Agency.

Let Us Not Give Up Our Only Right by Choice
by Mahdiyeh Golroo
Translated by Frieda Afary

. . . What can I say about those who refuse to tolerate a cesspool-like existence? Indifference is not part of their creed. This is the story of those who are tired of panegyrics, slander, superficial kindness, eloquent feasts, stereotypical happiness, pretensions of boldness, threadbare eloquence, equality without justice, frugality bursting with prodigality, and flamboyant ignorance.

. . . Now, although I am only a few steps away from them [hunger strikers], I am the most distant and the least informed. I know these loved ones have no energy to walk, talk or listen. They are suffering somewhere near me behind these same bars. But they are patiently resisting, without cries of pain or beseeching.

. . . My only hope is for you to remain healthy. My only wish is that you respect our only right by choice, that is to remain alive. Remain alive and see the bright days that are ahead and are impatiently awaiting the results of our efforts.

. . . During these not so distant years, so many prisoners in Evin prison’s cells have given up their lives for their goal. But how long shall we adorn the whip handles of dictatorships and executioners? Foresight is the responsibility of those who are wise.

To live is to do miracles
Otherwise birth is nothing but the memory of a fruitless pain
Let us not simply cover our noses
This harmful stench is not the world
It is an infection, an injustice

Mahdiyeh Golroo
Women’s Section of Evin Prison
August 3, 2010

This translation was originally published by Tehran Bureau on August 9, 2010

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