Sunday, November 08, 2009

How to Exterminate Revenge

Two weeks ago it was announced in Tehran that a nineteen-year girl Atefeh Imam was arrested by unidentified agents. After her mother widely spoke to the international media about this, Atefeh was eventually released and it was said at the time that she was “dropped off” in a torn chador near a large cemetery south of Tehran. Her father, a former Passdaran Guard member, has been in detention for the past three months following the mass protests by political groups in Iran in the turmoil after the June 12 presidential election. He has been charged with being present at presidential hopeful Mir-Hossein Mousavi. At the time the news was announced, it was said that her arrest and interrogations were a step to pressure her father.

Now her mother has announced that the kidnapping of her daughter was not real and that her young daughter had engineered this as a possible way to free her father from prison. Even if we accept the basic notion of the new scenario, and at the same time for a moment disregard the fact that interrogators in similar situations in the past have pressured family members to deny that they had been subjected to pressure, this does not diminish the seriousness of this tragedy.

Mrs. Imam’s new narrative demonstrates the pain she has been going through and only those with young people under their roof can feel the depth of her struggle. During the recent months, thousands of individuals in Iran have been caught in a similar situation and have experienced the same agony caused by the political machinations of the state.

I believe that Saeed Mortezavi is in the same seat in this regime as General Hossein Azmudeh, the prosecutor at Prime Minister Dr Mosaddegh’s trial, sat in April 1953. The latter turned out to be the most infamous person after the 1953 coup. Mortezavi now is playing the same role, and will have the same historic judgment. Mortezavi’s zeal to please his superiors by arresting and torturing dissidents, are the kiss of death and poison that he has brought to the regime because of his ignorance and youth. He wanted to satisfy his own personal ambitions, just as did Azmudeh, and in both cases the price that had to be paid for this was huge.

This is not just Mrs. Imam’s pain and that of tens of other revolutionary Muslim children. Look at another corner and you will se the writings of Mrs. Mohtashemi (the wife of Mostafa Tajzadeh, the reformist who is now behind bars) which has single handedly turned into a distinct literature on a weblog that she launched since his imprisonment a few months ago. Look at the letters that have been published recently. Look at the letters that were published in the last issues of Etemad Melli newspaper on its last page: these were the words of children to their imprisoned fathers. This is literature that will live and their disgrace will remain with all those who have been defending the current direction of official events in Iran, even if they do not have a direct hand in them. For just one moment, put yourself in the shoes of Mohammad Ali Abtahi’s daughters (Abtahi is the middle level reformist cleric with the most widely read Persian language web blog) whose father has been in solitary confinement for three months and where a laptop computer is occasionally taken while he is forced to write a piece under the watchful eyes of the state. Look at the photographs that show the look in the eyes of Abtahi’s daughters as they look at their thinned father and the two prison agents who accompany Abtahi on his two-hour escorted visit to his house. This kind of prisoner “privilege” is granted only to those prisoners who make the desired confessions. You see them looking at their father whose eyes try to portray a normal picture through his usual jokes, the same thing that children too do so that their father remains blind to the pain they are going through because of his absence.

It is not surprising that Iran has ignorant and lumpen individuals. All human societies have them. It is not surprising that these lumpens are mostly in the right-wing political groups and supporters of Ahmadinejad. It is the same with all populist regimes – look at historical examples. Lumpens used to gather around Hitler’s popular beer store and did anything for attaining power. But it is strange that in the Islamic republic, whose first generation leaders were all educated and book writers, who gave speeches, who read and recited poetry, and whose clergy which by habit falls back on to Rumi advocated the revolutionary goal of having towns without prisons and of turning all prisons into schools, even if out of inexperience, today after all the things that Assadollah Lajevardi’s allies did in prisons in the 1980s, after thirty years it has come to the point where its security lies in the hands of the lumpen, one of whose members I personally witnessed in prison in the form of an important Passdaran Revolutionary Guards commander who was in custody.

Did Mr. Javad Imam believe that the regime that he desired and for whose creation he was willing to risk his life when he fought at the war fronts would come to a point where his daughter had no choice but to kidnap herself and where the regime had become so infamous that it actually believed all this. Did al those who heard the story of Zahra Bani-Yaghoob believe that her rape and death had taken place at the hands of the Basijis in their offices.

When I heard this latest report, I told myself could it be that Atefeh had concocted this plan just to be near her father, just as Saeed Hajjarian’s children have announced their readiness to move to Evin prison and nurse their seriously ailing father. In the same fashion, Mirdamadi’s children and the grand-children of ayatollah Taleghani and ayatollah Mousavi Tabrizi and tens of other clerics from Qom have done, and have ended up in prison. This is the height of meanness that can only come from the very lumpens who in Kahrizak say they had built a town similar to the one described by Nobel winner Jose Saramago in his 1995 novel Blindness or the one that gangs allegedly built in the Superdome sports stadium after hurricane Katrina had struck New Orleans.