Self-portrait from prison by Delara Darabi, with red symbolizing her attempted suicide.
“The paintings in front of you are not wordless images and colours, they are the painful photo realities of our life…The only face I see in front of me every day is a wall. For three years, I have been defending myself with colours, forms and words. These paintings are an oath to a crime I did not commit. Unless the colours bring me back to life, I greet you who have come to view my paintings from behind that wall.” ––Delara Derabi, age 20, handwritten note posted on the wall of an exhibition of her paintings in Tehran
I would like to pose a question, especially to the publisher of iranian.com: Who is this “our” of which Delara speaks?
I submit this blog completely independently of Stop Child Executions or anyone associated with them.
As many of you are aware, three days ago I wrote a blog expressing my outrage at the clearly intentional suppression of all submissions on Delara Darabi sent to the publisher from SCE and other website members, with the exception of blogs, during the four critical days of the campaign to save her life. This began last Thursday when the day of her execution was set for Monday. and despite continued requests made by various people up to as late as Sunday, when.Delara’s execution was postponed for two months, none of the materials were ever published.
In my blog I stated my full intention to leave this website in protest of these deplorable actions and I stand by my decision. I was one of the main participants onsite in this campaign, and while I have good reason to believe there is a relationship between this past week’s events and the chronic non-featuring of much of my best work, my decision to leave is a matter of conscience. To remain on this forum as a blogger, or even as just an occasional poster, would convey a message that the publisher’s actions were, if not acceptable, at least somehow tolerable. They were not. As I also stated in that blog, an apology is owed to Delara, to the readership of this website who were deprived of knowledge of her desperate plight, and to the entire Iranian people, who in the past weeks have been victims of a full-scale attack on human rights on all fronts.
As the days pass, and my state of shock abates, I have come to the view that the publication of Delara’s paintings done in prison, as a photo essay, with an accompanying poem of hers, would constitute an acceptable apology. These materials were sent in on Thursday by SCE, and they were never published. In fact, when they failed to appear, I sent on Saturday to the publisher a link to his own website, where her paintings had appeared as a photo essay two years ago. And here I must stress again that Delara only appeared as Iranian of the Day late Saturday when a close friend of the publisher’s sent in a separate submission. Had she not done so, Delara would not have appeared anywhere on this website except in the blogs section, where general readers very often do not go.
Several members have encouraged me offsite to remain here. This is not remotely possible without such an apology. I was not raised to devote my work to a place whose management is unethical and indifferent to people’s wellbeing. Especially to a place whose claims to a mission of human rights and free speech have been shown to be so hypocritcal that they can only be described as Orwellian. However, in thinking about those supportive words to me, I have realized that I do have to stay for a short time because I still have some things to do here, which are to explain in a series of blogs:
why the campaign to save Delara is so very important, and extends far beyond “just” saving her life; what I feel the role of this website should be in this campaign and similar matters and what I feel should be the publisher’s responsibility as leader of the largest online Iranian community in the world; as well as some observatons on the response of many in the regular blogging community to this campaign, including to my last blog.
So I will stay onsite for the next couple of weeks to fulfill what I perceive as my responsibilites to this young woman, to Iran, the country which for the last several years I have been devoted to, the soul of which Delara embodies, and to this website.. For now, I post the poem she wrote that made me commit myself to her cause, before I even knew anything about her.
And ask that we all ponder, along with Delara, what is the meaning of freedom.
تا زمانیکه آزادیم
آزادی را آرمانی دست نیافتنی می پنداریم
و برای رسیدن به چیزی که قربانی زیر پای ماست؛
دستها یمان را دراز می کنیم
آزادی ! همیشه در بند نبودن معنا نمی دهد
آی آدم ها ! بیایید بند های اندیشمان را بدریم ها
ودر بند ازادی نباشیم
زیرا که خود در “بند“ ماست
TRANSLATION OF DELARA’S POEM
we suppose freedom is an ideal, Unattainable.
and we reach out
for what is already sacrificed under our own feet!
Freedom!?….Never being entrapped is meaningless!
Oh People! Let us rip the chains of our thoughts
and not be captivated by freedom
for …that itself is our “captive
That Delara at the eleventh hour became Iranian of the Day, that she was granted a two months’ stay of execution on Sunday afternoon, that the publisher and I are known by some to have differences between ius–all these things are true but they are irrelevant. That this blog stands as a testimony to “freedom of speech” is just a word game. Unless there is an apology.
You can’t play Scrabble with people’s lives.