Iran News ...


11/10/09

A Former Iranian Election Detainee: Mr. Interrogator! Thank you.

Source: Radio Zamaneh

Zhila Bani-Yaghoub, Iranian women's activist and journalist was released on August 18 with a one-billion-rial bail after two months in Evin prison. She was arrested on June 20 along with her husband, Bahman Ahmadi Amouyi, economic analyst and journalist.

Ms. Bani-Yaghoub is the editor-in-chief of Iranian Women's Council website and a member of the One-Million Signatures Campaign. She has collaborated with numerous reformist publications and newspapers and was arrested three times prior to this for attending protest rallies and campaigns organized by the women's movement.

Iranian authorities arrested over four thousand people in connection with the post-election protests that contest Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's victory in the June presidential elections in Iran. Whilst over three thousand of these detainees were released, mostly by putting up exorbitant bails, those who are still in prison raise the concern of all social and human rights activists, especially those who have suffered through the ordeal themselves, like Zhila Bani-Yaghoub.

Ms. Bani-Yaghoub's concern for her husband is touchingly documented in her November 5th post on her website, www.zhila.org as translated below.


Zhila Bani-Yaghoub

WE ARE JOURNALISTS
By
Zhila Bani-Yaghoub, www.zhila.org

Bahman! Why did the interrogator let me go, but not you?

I always thought I knew you completely. But these days I have realized I had never known you this well. Behind your calm and humble face, I had never imagined this much patience and fortitude. These days each time I see you from behind the glass of the visiting room in Evin , a deep calm flows from your gaze into me, so deep that all the anxiety and uneasiness that I have been feeling because of being away from you, suddenly evaporates.

This time during the visit I ask you: "Bahman my dearest! Aren't you tired of prison?"

You said: "No! Why should I get tired?"

You said it with so much confidence, and there was such honesty in your words that I believed it and I didn't ask you anything more about it.

I remember one day, my interrogator who was yours as well, told us: "You will leave this place, but only when you have had learned your lessons!"

I had forgotten his words till dear Shiva Nazar Ahari was released. She was released and still some of our friends were in prison. When I congratulated her on her release, she gave me an unusual answer:

" Zhila! These days I keep going over my interrogation sessions. Each time I ask myself maybe I made a mistake somewhere that they let me go sooner than others. What have I done to be released sooner than others?"

And it was then the words of our interrogator came back to me: "You and Bahman will be released from prison when you have learned your lesson."

Dear Bahman, these days this sentence echoes in my head so much that I get tired. As Shiva said, what mistake did I make that the interrogator let me go sooner than you? These days I envy you. You, who must have been stronger than me. Envious of you that must have made fewer mistakes in your interrogation sessions. You, that the interrogator can not imagine might be tired of prison and learned his lesson, and probably that's why they won't let you free.

I have mixed feelings: good and bad. Good, because today after ten years of our shared lives together, I know you even better and more than ever, I am proud of you. I am proud of you because each time we meet, you never ask about your case. You never ask when you will be released, and each time I want to talk about the follow ups of your case, right away you change the subject. When you see me insist, you say: "For however long its necessary without weariness or frustration, I will stay here." And then it makes me laugh and I say: "My dear! When you say these things, it means you haven't learned your lesson! Maybe the interrogator will hear you. Please tell them you have had enough. Tell them you have learned your lesson!" And you laugh too. You just laugh.

And I feel bad, too. What have I done that I should be free sooner than you? Why did the interrogator think I had learned my lesson?

You say: "Maybe my imprisonment is more effective for the future of little Amir and all the little Amirs than my freedom."

And then right there I remember something similar to these words from an imprisoned woman. I am talking about Shabnam who is still in prison. According to her released friends who were in prison with her, when Shabnam prays, she never prays for her freedom. Instead she says: "God! If my imprisonment helps Iran, then may I remain in prison, and if my freedom helps the advancement of my country, then help me go free."

Each time you say, life in prison is full of various experiences, and you speak about these experiences in a way that I realize, even in prison you are still a journalist. Even two months in solitary confinement has been full of interesting moments. You say you would not have been able to experience the solitude of solitary confinement anywhere else in the world. You say you have gone over all the moments of your life in the darkness of your solitary cell and now feel lighter and calmer. You say that this reflection on your life has allowed you to reach the conclusion that you need to be kinder, more patient and tolerant. You say you have decided that once you are released, the first thing you will do is to visit those who one day even for smallest of reasons might be upset with you; that you plan to show affection to those who do not agree with you. These are the things you say, you that among your friends, co-workers and your family are known for your patience.

My dear Bahman, now I can thank the interrogator for making it possible for me to get to know you far better and feel prouder of you.

Mr. Interrogator! Thank you.

Zhila Bani-Yaghoub, November 5th, 2009

 

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