I would like to ask you to take a step back from where you are standing right at this moment, and imagine what kind of guts it takes to write letters and criticize your old friends in high places at the cost of being plucked from your ordinary life, tried for your thoughts, thrown in solitary confinement, beaten, tortured, and made to repent, and be further tortured when you don’t, and be sentenced to 3.5 years in prison and 50 lashes. Now imagine, after all that, that you would continue writing critical letters to the Supreme Leader and Head of the Iranian Judiciary, to the point where you are further beaten, tried again, and sentenced to an additional two years in prison. That person is documentary filmmaker, journalist, and blogger Mohammad Nourizad. He has been in prison since December 2009.
Below are excerpts from a November 18, 2010 letter from Mohammad Nourizad, addressed to Head of the Iranian Judiciary, Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, speaking about the “savage” way in which the Intelligence Ministry forces have treated him and other political prisoners:
“They have beaten me and they have cursed my kin…In our Islamic country, things have happened and do happen that you would never experience, unless you are subjected to them; I wonder whether anyone has ever shoved your loved ones’ head into a toilette bowl? If they had, and you and your loved ones have breathed and tasted the inescapable taste of what is in a toilette bowl, you would have directed some of your qualifications as an Ayatollah to this side of your judicial territory…But why have they shoved our heads into the toilette bowls in our solitary cells? It is so that they could take confessions from us that would invalidate the legitimacy of our protests and would strengthen the shaky legs of the rulers’ power.”
“I suggest next time you comb your hair in front of a mirror, and when you spray yourself with cologne, you think about the heads of your country’s political prisoners, shoved into the toilettes in their cells. I don’t know, has anyone ever slapped your face over and over again? And, hit your lovely chest and back with a shoe? Or, kicked you in the face? And, spat on your face in between your eyebrows and eyes?…I wonder whether in your abyss of loneliness and under outpour of punches and kicks, some have uttered cuss words and profanities at your dear wife? And, thrown your chaste daughters into the arms of the sleaze? And, sullied your innocent mother, sister, and kin with sexual mire? I doubt it! But, some Ministry of Intelligence officers…have done this with us.”
I think Mohammad Nourizad is a brave man. He, too, saw what happened on Tehran streets in June 2009, but, unlike his old friends, he decided he could not keep silent about it. He has been paying dearly for it ever since. A brave man, indeed.