Two years ago, on one of these days when I was in prison on the charge of writing two articles and was spending a part of my nineteen months of conviction in a solitary cell, Aghajari announced his protest against the imprisonment of thinkers and writers by a government that he considered himself as one of its founders. By doing this, he endangered his position as a university professor, and today while I am standing here on his behalf to receive the prize you are presenting him there is no danger threatening me whereas he is in prison and condemned to death because of his speech on the subject of religious despotism. Without paying any attention to his defenses and his professional position, the court considered him as an apostate and condemned him to death sentence and despite the order of the leader of Islamic Republic, the Traditionalists refused to review their unjust decision. In the last re-evaluation of his file following the wide-spread protests of students and university faculties, they made it possible for him to escape his death sentence by admitting a great fabricated lie that he is not in a psychologically balanced state of mind. However, he has refused to go through any psychological examinations despite the threat of his death sentence.
What makes him suffer from a double pain in these moments of the beginning of the New Year in Iran and the outbreak of a terrible war in the region is that his verdict has been issued by the name of the very thing that he deeply believes in. Not in a single moment of his imprisonment among thieves and evil men, has he lost his faith in God and Islam. His double pain originates from the fact that if he pleads against his death sentence, he has admitted that his faith and the government that he has lost his health for its survival oppose freedom and can not tolerate any criticism. He has not yielded as to him this would signify an insult to his faith and beliefs. In his view, the religion in which he has put his faith in, aspires people to be free and the God he deeply believes in does not approve of any form of cruelty and oppression of thinkers. Aghajari has said that he is ready to sacrifice his life for his faith. He has written that during his long fight against cruelty, his life has been in danger many times and to him a life without faith is not worth living.
If he were not in prison in these days when the majority of people of the world are fighting against a war that has befallen on defenseless innocent human beings, he would have definitely joined them. As he has done all his life. Twenty years ago, he lost his leg in a war against the brutal Iraqi dictator and now while in prison, he is still suffering from its wound as he is being deprived of medical care.
He aspires to a more humane world where people would not fight with each other, would tolerate and love one another more, hear others' opinions and respect the freedom of their opponents and that is exactly what he has propagated in his articles and teachings. In their protests against his arrest throughout the country, the students of the universities where he used to teach carried a panel on which they had painted a beautiful flower with the gallows' rope around its neck as a symbol of their professor.
In the last day of winter when following an ancient tradition, Iranians sit around a sofreh (table cloth spread on the ground) and pray for world peace and beg God to show them the best of his grace, a young girl who missed her father wrote a poem in which she says if her father returns home from prison, she will bombard the whole world with apples. The name of her poem is "The story of a legless father" and at the beginning of her poem, this sixteen years old girl writes:
My youth turned as dark as black hair
Under the ruins of needs
From whom shall I acquire m black hair?
Would shadows answer me?
And indeed you and all the humanitarians and liberalists of the world who keep the memory of Aghajari alive, will answer Maryam and say, 'Yes, our hearts are with you and the shadows are awake.'
I had no ways to ask permission from Aghajari and Maryam for what I am doing, but I am sure that in that immense silence of the prison, being deprived of the news of what is going on in the world, he knows that the world's liberalists are not shadows and their hearts are with him. Three days ago, when the Spring arrived at dawn in Iran, in the prison of the city of Hamedan with her two thousands years of history he has definitely prayed for the arrival of the day when there will be no war, and no one will be under pressure for expressing his opinion and no body would be jailed for his speeches and writings. In fact by presenting him this prize, you and I are sharing in his praying. Amen.
... Payvand News - 5/5/03 ... --