This letter is written by the political prisoner Maryam Akbari Monfared, who has been in prison for 13 years without a single day of leave.
She was imprisoned on the charge of being a supporter of the MEK. Her three brothers and one sister, who she mentions in this letter, were killed by the mullahs’ regime.
Political prisoner Maryam Akbari’s letter from Semnan prison is addressed to the people of Iran December 28, 2022.
On the eve of my 14th year in prison, this is not just a story you are reading; it is the bloody suffering of only one out of 85 million.
Although for me with 13 years of experience in prison, counting days and months in detention has been and is a reprehensible thing since the very first days, but how could I forget that dark midnight of injustice to me and my family, or its connection to the oppression that the regime has directed against our family since the 1980s.
As of December 29, 2022, thirteen years have passed since I was separated from my 4-year-old Sarah and my two 12-year-old daughters on that winter midnight. Without giving me a chance to say goodbye to my loved ones, they took me to Evin prison to give some explanations and made the ridiculous promise that “you will return to your children in the morning.” Thirteen years have already passed since that day. From December 29, 2009 to December 29, 2022!
It was a breath-taking battle to spend second by second of 13 years. Even counting 13 years day by day (being 4745 days) makes one tired, let alone spending 4745 days one by one in the midst of an unequal war!
This is not a 4,000-page story, but the pure reality of a life under the domination of fascists who imposed it on us while we refused to give in.
Although I wished to be with my children with every cell of my being – and what mother doesn’t want that – I don’t regret but am determined to continue my path. I have said this every time in every formal and informal interrogation session, and I am happy to repeat it!
I have been away from my children for 13 years, but I witnessed the crime with my own eyes for 13 years and my resolve became stronger. On this side of the bars, in the dark desert of torture and oppression, as far as one can see – even where one cannot see – there is just vileness and brutality! It is a silent documentary of the oppression against women that no one can bear to hear even one of them, let alone live with hundreds of these tortured symbols and feel their pain with heart and soul.
For 13 years, I saw dozens of children and hundreds of teenagers and young people of the same age as my daughters; I caressed them, I talked to them, I gnashed my teeth at their silence and loneliness, and shouted in their defense over everyone in the ranks of oppressors.
I don’t even know what happened to my children in these 13 years! In these 13 years, they dealt with the adversities of life so strongly that I didn’t feel them at all! Every meeting with them became an explosion of energy for me due to the storm of their problems!
If you ask me how I survived amidst the darkness of torture and exhausting time, I will say that it is the blazing flame of faith in my heart that has kept me going.
The interrogators want to steal this warm and blazing flame from the prisoner, in the midst of loneliness with empty hands, from the first moment of their arrest … so that their beings freeze and surrender … But for 13 years, I kept it burning with holy rage at the tortures I witnessed and hurt my soul! I smiled and proliferated the smile to be able to resist, because resistance is our heart.
Faith in the path that my brothers and sisters died for, faith in the path that I stepped on, and faith in the clenched fists and firm steps of the youth who are standing in the streets sacrificing their lives against the dictatorship.
Faith in the innocence of my brothers and sisters, whom I never considered dead… They were and are the most alive for me. They held my hand in my every moment in prison… and now I find them on the streets of Iran …
Maryam Akbari Monfared and Family
I saw Alireza, who was executed in 1981, in the clenched fists of that young man in Naziabad.
I see Ruqiyeh, who was executed in Evin prison in the summer of 1988, fearless and in the front line against repressive IRGC guards.
And I heard the voice of Abdolreza, who was executed in Gohardasht prison in the summer of 1988, in the continuous cry for freedom of his peers.
I find Gholamreza, who was martyred under the torture of IRGC guards in Evin prison in 1985, among the young people who are martyred under torture.
They wanted to bury them anonymously, but now we see how this brave generation continues the path of the same young people who did not bow down to Khomeini.
They thought that if they kill our loved ones, their rule will be eternal! But what an absurd thought they had because our martyrs rose in the middle of flames in the streets during the uprising … the wind scattered their ashes in the pavements of this city so that fearless men and women have grown!
Brave girls and boys who feel the dream of life in the sun and rain in a bright tomorrow and show the most rebellious anger against the perpetrators of 43 years of oppression and tyranny … they fight and the darkness is afraid of their presence! And my faith increases from their presence!
With the news of every protest and every uprising, and with the sparks of this rebellious flame, the hearts of women whose only hope of freedom is to break these iron gates are filled with hope.
To my daughters and sons, who are bravely on the streets and I long to be by their side at every moment, I say: if you are arrested, do not trust the interrogators even an iota. They are not of our kind! The enemy is the enemy at any moment! Increase your faith in your path as much as possible. Only this helps in solitary confinement.
I say to the families of prisoners: do not count on promises, intimidation and threats. You can only save your children’s lives by encouraging people to repeat their names! No interrogator would help you. Don’t be silent, shout!
To the grieving families, to every mother who sacrificed her loved one in this way, to all the brothers and sisters who lost a loved one while paying homage to their martyrs – I say that I share in their grief too … I hold their hands from here and stand shoulder to shoulder with them, stronger than before, for justice.
I was talking about 13 years of non-stop battle. But in short, I say: “One day I will sing the hymn of victory from the top of a mountain like the sun.”
Tomorrow is ours!
Maryam Akbari Monfared – December 2022
– From inside the Hell-like prison in Semnan.
Editor’s Note: Maryam Akbari Monfared was arrested in December 2009 for her participation in peaceful street protests.