With all the news I read everyday, I wish I would become insensitive to hearing bad news. I still feel sad when I read about prisoner families talking about the inhumane way in which their prisoner kin and themselves are treated inside Evin Prison. When I hear that someone is going to be imminently executed, I read Iran news with a thumping heart and sweaty palms shortly after the sunrise hours in Iran, knowing by now that prison hangings happen just before sunrise. I read news of another student’s education ban with rage, as I know just what kind of IQ that student must have had in order to be admitted in the university in the first place, and the thought of that loss of human potential angers me beyond words.
Sometimes, when I read the news, I feel so sad, like reading that an 80-year old man jumped to his death to protest the living conditions that were his sentence for thinking, for talking, for writing.
But there are times when I read a piece of news and I feel so ashamed and so inadequate, I can do nothing but to weep for Iran, for Iranians, and for humanity. Today was one such day. I read the story of Vajihollah Mirza Golpour, a 71-year old resident of Safar Abad Village outside Sari in the province of Mazandaran.
He was arrested after he appeared at the Sari Intelligence Office, following summons. His relatives said that he was transferred from Sari to Tonekabon, where he was interrogated. Mirza Golpur’s relatives say he has heart disease and only one week prior to his arrest, he had been hospitalized for treatment. His family say they still don’t know exactly on what charges he was arrested. All they know is that he is a Bahai, and he is just one in a large group of Bahai’s who have been rounded up and arrested over the past couple of years in Mazandaran, some with their homes and farms destroyed.
Friends and relatives of Vajihollah Mirza Golpour said that in order “to put him under more pressure,” last Tuesday he was made to walk ankle-cuffed all around the town of Tonekabon. A source said that earlier, during his interrogation, “in order to extract confessions of him, his head was hit against the wall, and he has been kicked in his side.”
I wonder what the sick men who made the 71-year old man walk ankle-cuffed around Tonekabon want of him. I wonder why he is being so extensively interrogated. To confess? To what? To being a Bahai? I doubt Vajihollah and his family made it too hard for the interrogators to find out that he is a Bahai. Did they want him to confess about his undercover operations in the village of Safar Abad? Of how he collects intelligence about the other farmers and residents of the village and sends it abroad? Why would they publicly humiliate a 71-year old man like that? To set a good example for others?
I am so sad for Iran and Iranians tonight. But I have a message for Mr. Vajihollah Mirza Golpour. You are not humiliated, Sir. You are not diminished in any way, not for your faith, not for your conscience, and not for being paraded through Tonekabon withe shackles on your feet. You will not be insulted, for neither you, nor I believe that this savagery has any projection or impact on you. It is only your small jailers who grew even smaller and less significant with this act. To me, you stand tall and you stand strong, Mr. Mirza Golpour. You do.