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
Women’s Section of Evin Prison
August 3, 2010
This translation was originally published by Tehran Bureau on August 9, 2010