An Unpublished Sound Track of Farzad Kamangar
HRANA News Agency – Farzad Kamangar, a teacher and human rights activist who was executed in the morning of May 9, 2010 along with Ali Heidarian, Farhad Vakili, Shirin Alam Holi and Mehdi Eslamian in Evin prison, in his short life, due to his human concerns and by his formidable pen wrote open letters addressed to the Iranian society. Letters full of humane emotion, hope, resistance, peace and equality. The letter called; “Be strong Comrades” is one of his latest letters which was written by Farzad in May 2010. The letter was addressed to imprisoned teachers at that time. The sound track of the letter in which Farzad Kamangar reads this letter is being published for the first time, now:
In this letter, Kamangar as a teacher, emphasizes on humanity as a mission for teachers, despite all the limitations, and asks his colleagues, (just symbolically, Rasoul Bodaghi and Mohammad Davari) on the eve of the “Teachers’ Week” to be strong and continue the way that they have already started.
The full text of this letter, like almost all Farzad’s letters, had been published by HRANA, when he was alive. However, on the occasion of the sixth anniversary of his execution, there is a sound file which is the recitation of the draft version of the letter by the late human rights activist that like many aspects of his case and his story had been left unpublished.
On the occasion of the sixth anniversary of his unfair execution, HRANA is releasing this file from a collection of their archives with the aim of enlightening the public and drawing their attention to the situation of imprisoned teachers, particularly the teachers who were on hunger strike at the time of publication of this letter, which inspired Farzad Kamangar to write this letter.
«Be Strong Comrades»
Once upon a time, there was a mother fish who laid 10,000 eggs. Only one little black fish survived. He lives in a stream with his mother.
One day the little fish said to his mother, “I want to go away from here.” The mother asked, “Where to?” The little fish replied, “I want to go see where the stream ends.”
[Translator’s note: Little Black Fish is the title of a short story fiction piece for children. The story was written in 1967 by the dissident teacher Samad Behrangi. The book was banned under the Shah’s regime. It tells the story and adventures of a little fish who defies the rules of his community to embark on a journey to discover the sea. On the way, he courageously fights enemies. The tale is considered to be a classic in Iranian resistance literature]
Hello cell mates. Hello fellow mates of pain!
I know you well: you are the teacher, the neighbour to the stars of *Khavaran, the classmates of dozens whose essays were attached to their legal cases [as evidence], the teacher of students whose [only] crime was their humane thoughts. I know you well: you are colleagues of Samad and Ali Khan. You remember me too, right?
[Translator’s note: Khavaran is the cemetery in eastern Tehran where many political dissidents were executed during the 1980’s and buried in mass unmarked graves]
It is me, the one chained in Evin prison.
It is me, the quiet student who sits behind the broken school benches and longs to see the sea while in a remote village in Kurdistan. It is me, who like you, told the tales of Samad to his students; but in the heart of the Shahoo Mountains [located in Kurdistan].
It is me who loves to take on the role of the little black fish.
It is me, your comrade on death row.
Now, the valleys and mountains are behind him and the river passes though a plain field. From the left and the right side, other rivers have joined in and the river now is filled with more water. The little fish enjoyed the abundance of water…the little fish wanted to go to the bottom of the river. He was able to swim as much as he wanted and not bump into anything.
Suddenly, he spotted a large group of fish. There were 10,000 of them, one of whom told the little black fish, “Welcome to the sea, comrade!”
My jailed colleagues! Is it possible to sit behind the same desk as Samad, look into the eyes of the children of this land, and still remain silent?
Is it possible to be a teacher and not show the path to the sea to the little fish of the country? What difference does it make if they come from Aras [a river in northwestern Iran, Azerbaijan], Karoon [a river in southwestern Iran, Khuzestan], Sirvan [a river in Kurdistan] or Sarbaz Rood [a river in the Sistan and Baluchestan region]? What difference does it make when the sea is a mutual destiny, to be united as one? The sun is our guide. Let our reward be prison that is fine!
Is it possible to carry the heavy burden of being a teacher and be responsible for spreading the seeds of knowledge and still be silent? Is it possible to see the lumps in the throats of the students and witness their thin and malnourished faces and keep quiet?
Is it possible to be in the year of no justice and fairness and fail to teach the H for Hope and E for Equality, even if such teachings land you in Evin prison or result in your death?
I cannot imagine being a teacher in the land of Samad, Khan Ali, and Ezzati and not join the eternity of
*Aras. I cannot imagine witnessing the pain and poverty of the people of this land and fail to give our hearts to the river and the sea, to roar and to inundate.
[*Translator note: Aras is a river in northwest Iran, bordering Iran and Azerbaijan. Samad drowned in the river in the summer of 1968. Some have considered the circumstance of his death suspicious and blamed agents of the Shah’s regime for his death]
I know that one day, this harsh and uneven road will be paved for teachers and the suffering you endured will be a badge of honour so everyone can see that a teacher is a teacher, even if his or her path is blocked by the *selection process, prison, and execution. The little black fish and not the heron bestows honour on the teacher.
[Translator’s note: Selection process or Gozinesh is a process through which teachers and other government-paid employees are vetted based on their ideological, political, and religious views]
The Little Fish calmly swam in the sea and thought: Facing death is not hard for me, nor is it regrettable.
Suddenly the heron swooped down and grabbed the little fish.
Grandma Fish finished her story and told her 12,000 children and grandchildren that it was time for bed. 11,999 little fish said good night and went to bed. The grandmother went to sleep as well. One little red fish was not able to sleep. That fish was deep in thought.
A teacher on death row, Evin prison
Farzad Kamangar’s explanation on the title of his letter:
Eight years ago, the grandmother of one of my students, Yassin, in the village of Marab, played the tape of the story of the teacher Mamoosta Ghootabkhaneh. She told me then, “I know that your fate, like the teacher who is the writer and recorder of this poem, is execution; but be strong comrade. The grandmother said those words as she puffed on her cigarette and stared at the mountains.
Translation: Siavosh J. | Persian2English.com