I performed a creative piece at the Oct 5th gathering of the Society for Human Rights in Iran, Southern California, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the 1988 Political Prisoner’s Massacre in Iran. My piece was intended to promote the participation of Iranian youth, as well as give those unfamiliar with the atrocities in Iran an idea of what we are remembering. The event was held at UCLA and was not affiliated with any political organizations, and simply wished to remember the thousands of innocent people who were tortured and executed in the 1980s by the Islamic Republic of Iran’s regime and promote the need for Human Rights organizations around the world to make sure that such travesty never occurs again.
(To the audience) – I met my own ignorant self on the street and asked:
Me: Have you ever heard of “a Prisoner of Conscious”?
Me2: Well, no! But I’m a smart woman, I’m sure I can guess what it is.
Me: Go ahead, take your best shot!
Me2: Nice choice of words(sarcastically)! I think, it means people locked up for having no conscience. You know, just to prevent them from doing something really bad, like murder, in the future.
(To the audience): *laughing* I thought this was my ignorant self, not my moronic self!
Me: (to the audience) No! Let me tell you who a “prisoner of conscious” is:
Imprisoned, prosecuted for what is in his or her mind- NOT for what they have actually done!
Yes, here thoughts are louder than actions, and the profundity of these words should echo loud in your minds, because this means YOU (pointing at audience), and YOU and YOU and YOU and YES, I (pointing at myself) too should all be “Prisoners of Conscious”, it means 1984 manifested, it means “thought crimes”, it means, (loudly) WE ARE ALL criminals!
It means we all deserve to be as severely punished as the jurisdiction of life allows. It means if you think; you are dangerous!
SO I begin with a quote, because in the system of oppression of the towers of academia, my creativity was beaten, and instead I was bombarded by clichés. I was told to begin every essay with either a profound definition or the words of a wise man. Who cared what my own hands could produce?
A deaf Jam slam poet says: “I am not angry; I am anger! I am not dangerous; I am danger! I am abominable stress, Iliadic relentless, I am a breath of vengeance; I am the death sentence!”
Let me tell you who a “Prisoner of Conscious” is.
Not to you! (Point to the audience) Not you, the men and women who were once there, not you the Human Right activists who injected me with the truth and were blamed for carrying the syringes of reality.
I don’t want to preach to the choir. No! I speak to my own moronic self in the street. Hence, this piece is written in English, because I want these words to ring, and ring, and ring, and echo, and echo, and echo all over the world, it must and it shall! I don’t want the solitary cells of Evin to be a secret anymore! I don’t want this to be our burden any longer; I want everyone to know who a “Prisoner of Conscious” is:
Once a young boy who had just formed the mustache above his lips, a young girl not yet reached puberty, tortured, brutally, ruthlessly in the invisible walls of Evin and Gohar Dasht, and so many unnamed provinces of Iran. Once a young mom, she had just given birth, once a young man, he had just proposed. But ethereal romance was too good for those times; a “Prisoner of Conscious” devotes body and his “lack of soul” to ideas, to ideals, to his manifesto, to his book of truth, NOT the holy book! A “Prisoner of Conscious” is an unknown man, a statistically insignificant, and yet a powerful force in this world, a nameless threat, he is flesh, she is flesh, flesh and bones! An idealist, a dreamer, she hoped, he wished, she desired, he fought for something more than the status quo. And yes, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, that was their crime!
How many? 8,000? 10,000? Who were they really? What were they names? What did they like? What did they dream of? Were their affiliations a manifestation of their time? Were they a victim of their surroundings, of their social standings?
Let’s play a game shall we?
I will ask you a question, and if you answer me wrong, you are sent to the gutters! BUT wait…don’t answer! It’s a rhetorical question! You were doomed poor child, way before you were brought before my eyes! And thus is the story of every “Prisoner of Conscious”.
I do have a story for you. It’s my story! I was in my mother’s womb when she was a “Prisoner of Conscious”, so I was a “prisoner of Conscious” too before I was born! My father was a “Prisoner of Conscious” in Iran in the 1980s as well. I was 8 years old when I left Iran and I have never looked back since. My memories of Iran are neither sweet nor passionate.
And what does the topic of ME has anything to do with the topic of YOU or the topic of the “Prisoner’s of Conscious”?
EVERYTHING! WHY? You might ask.
I am the next generation of Human Rights activists for Iran; I am the future of this movement, and everything you have fought for.
Oh, That title is much more a burden than an honor, believes me! But if you and my mother and my father do not find a way to teach me about how to carry on your legacy, how to continue this fight for human rights, for ideas that were once flesh, how to organize and become a united front, how not to repeat the same mistakes, you have allowed all of those “Prisoner’s of Conscious” of 1988 and the hundreds of others dying on hunger strike in Iran RIGHT NOW, go on silent and go on silent and go on silent!
If you do not find a way to reach out to my 15 year old brother who is completely disconnected with Iran, apathetic even, the silence and inaction will eventually bury them under history. That will be YOUR intellectual genocide!
And I want to run into myself in the street one day and say: I am glad we are finally victorious! I am glad we have triumphed!