If he were alive
Interview with Ali Akbar
Saeedi Sirjani's daughter, Sayeh
By Fariba Amini
August 12, 2003
Omidvaar vojoudi ke az jahaan beravad
Miaan Khalgh be niki bemaanad aassaarash -- Sa'di
In Iranian neo-classical literature the name of Ali Akbar
Saeedi Sirjani is
engraved in gold. His contribution to the many aspects of Iranian
without a doubt impressive and phenomenal. Saeedi was not just
a poet, a writer, a critic, a teacher, but above all a
gentle human being.
There is only handful of the literary crowd
that remains. Most have died, either from grief over the loss
of their homeland or have been
eliminated by those who have seized their homeland.
Individuals like Gholam-Hoseein Saedi, Mohammad Mokhtari,
Ahmad Shamlou, Nader Naderpour, Feryedoun Moshiri and many
others who died
in the name of Iran and for Iran.
Saeedi Sirjani, lived for Iran and died for Iran.
Sayeh is his reflection; she is the daughter who speaks as eloquently
father. As her name suggests, she is his shadow. With a low voice
of him, of her life, of what her father taught her and of the
bleak past and
of a bright future. She is the echo of Saeedi Sirjani. Like others,
Sirjani died, not in vain, but in the highest form of death,
for the devotion to
his country and his culture.
Who killed him? Who came to his house and found nothing and took
and anything. Who accused him of wrongdoing? Who portrayed him
as a traitor?
Who accused him of sodomy! Who took him to prison and tortured
him, then poisoned him and then
shamelessly and in the most coward way, said he died from a heart
attack? THEY are those claiming to represent
God while perpetuating a vicious carnage far worse than
Chengiz and the Mongols or former and recent dynasties.
THEY are not foreigners.
They are from the very land
Saeedi came from. They are our homeland's bad seeds. They
thieves who have placed their sinful hands on the natural resources
and have attempted to silence the best of its human resources.
Saeedi Sirjani. By killing him, they tried to eradicate not a man
but a literary
legend. By destroying him, they killed a priceless treasure. By
they tried to strangle Iran.
Sayeh spoke to me after a short stay in Washington, DC where
she talked at a
gathering for Mothers in support of the Students in Iran.
Here is Sayeh Saeedi Sirjani in her own words:
My father was
born on December 11, 1931 in Sirjan. His own father was a poet
and had a bookstore in Sirjan. My father's interest in literature
was as a
direct result of the teachings of his own father. He began his
career in the schools of Sirjan and Bam. And he studied in the
higher education in the field of philosophy. He became the deputy
Cultural Foundation. He worked extensively on Farhang Dehkhoda and in fact
was responsible for the N portion of this famous encyclopaedia.
It was sometime after the revolution of 1979, while working with
Pourvali in the journal Bamshad, that their office was
burned to the ground. I
was in India at the time and my father came to visit me there
and from there he
wrote his famous articles of Sheikh Sanaan. He also
worked with Mr. Enayat
and was an active contributor to his journal Negin. Later that
Ghoddousi, (former Prosecutor General) came on state TV
and accused my
father of using foul language against the Islamic regime. Their
harassment of my father would continue until the time he was
taken and detained.
What I recall
from our very last meeting was when they called us at home,
and told us to come and meet him for only ten minutes. I drove
fast and got to
the meeting place at Esteghlal Hotel, (former Hilton) in north
Tehran. I saw him there and ran towards him. I hadn't seen
him for over 4 months. He looked much skinnier and had bruises
on his hands.
But he was happy to see me, as he had been so worried that we hadn't heard
from him for so long.
We went to the 15th floor of the hotel. Those people ran the
whole establishment. They were well groomed and wore ties and
suites. They didn't look
intelligence people. In the room there were cameras and all kinds of security
apparatus. Four people were present. I don't remember their names. But
if I saw
them I would recognize them. In any case, they would change their names
later on. But I am certain that Saeed Emami [former senior intelligence
who "committed" suicide
was not there. My father said to one of them: "Seyed, you have injured
me so badly," and then he laughed and in a joking way said, "they
want to make
Moslem out of me!"
It was 13 of Tir (July 4) 1992. They claimed he died 6th of Azar
(November 27) that year but we believe it was earlier, in late
August, when they killed him.
When I think that he spent the last days and months of his life in captivity
and under torture and that they changed his words and his writings, it makes
me sick to my stomach. I tremble at the thought of it. But I remember his
famous verse, beh yek baareh jaan dar setam soukhtan maraa behtar az
baa setam saakhtan. (Better to be burned by tyranny, than to live with
It gives me strength and comfort that he is always with me. The
price of freedom is very high. And there is a big difference between
pain and suffering
and misery. There is a world of difference. I feel the pain but I am not
miserable like those who killed him.
We sort of had an emotional and telepathic relationship. He knew
what I thought or what was on my mind. And vice versa. Everything
that made him happy
or sad would make me feel the same way. We had a lot of common interests.
I feel it even now. I feel him close to me as if he is sometimes
The first few months it was very difficult. I couldn't handle it. I felt
a gap in my life, a big gap. But now I can function a little better.
Nonetheless, I think that If he were alive, he could have said
so much and would
have written so much more. His pen was broken too soon.
Who do I think is responsible? Well the totality of the Islamic regime is
accountable but the Vali Faghih (Ayatollah Khamenei) is on top
of the list. It was
fatwa from Khamenei to get rid of my father; it was on his specific orders.
Hossein Sharitmadari had an important role with this crime as my
father had made a
formal complaint against him.
Nevertheless, they are all responsible for
this heinous crime. They used to send their thugs in front
of our house with
chains and they would shout, "Death to Saeedi Sirjani, the
home-made Salman Rushdie". It was an orchestrated plan to get rid of
my father who was outspoken especially after his famous letter to Khamenei
courageously condemns the regime for use of violence against voices
Mr. Kioumars Saberi who is now the editor of Gol Agha, a
former satirist for Towfigh, used to meet with Khamenei
every Thursday. My father once told him, "Shame on this
country that now you are
issuing my death
sentence through the fatwa of the Vali faghih. Don't you remember who
you were and what you did?" My father never stopped being
a critic in every word and in
Now I am keeping busy with some legal work. I am involved in
creating an Iranian legal working group and working on Iranian
immigration law. Moreover, I am reading about our literature and
history to learn and understand
its importance. My father would have wanted it.
I think his most valuable
piece of work is "Dar Asteen Moragha" and "Sheykh
Sanaan", which depict twenty-five years of Islamic rule
When I was younger, I always wished that I would never see the
day that my parents would be in harm's way. And then my father
was taken away from me
this horrid way. We used to have long conversations on literary issues and
trying to find out what the meaning of death was in the works of our beloved
poet Hafez. My father was doing research on the subject. He was my true
teacher, in life and in death.
Now he is gone and he can never speak or write. My father always
had this message for those living abroad, not to ever forget their
homeland and return
Iran and never let go of their culture.
He wrote an article about the meaning of Vatan (Homeland).
We are Iranians and we are proud of our heritage, of our culture
of our language.
emphasized about the importance of our language, and that the Persian language
continue to flourish.
There were some serious mistakes made during the reign of the
Shah, especially in the last 15 years. Who knows, if right decisions
were made, the
of history might have been different. And today, we would not have the
catastrophe of what is called the Islamic Republic. Thus, we fell from one
a deeper one. Az chaah be chaaleh oftaadim.
There is no question that the crimes of this regime are not comparable
to that of the Pahlavi period. The [current ruling group] has shown
its very malevolence to the
And have not stopped at any sin. All the same, any type of one-man
dictatorship will eventually lead to tyranny. Therefore, I do not see my
national identity as having a king.
I am Iranian and whatever I
am is from my heritage to Iran and
its people no matter from
which ethnic minority or religion. This I consider the soul of being Iranian.
It isn't enough that I am opposed to such and such, but I do
credibility to Monarchy. When the rule of law and justice
was to develop in
country, both monarchy and religion destroyed it. Fortunately we live during
time that these concepts, justice and rule of law are highly regarded
by all people around the world. We have said no to both types of
Let me clarify one point, that I personally do not consider the
1979 as a mistake. It was due to a wave of solidarity and cooperation that
the revolution took place. And if there were political parties to explain
issues to the people and bring awareness, then the outcome would have been
different. There were tremendous emotions and sacrifices in those days against
monarchy and now against the Velayat Faghih. Since I, as an Iranian, have
lived through both, I cannot bring myself to vote for any of the
It is up to us, every one of us, in the final analysis. Az mast
ke bar mast. No one, neither from the sky above nor by the aid
of foreigners can bring
us to our goal of achieving a democratic state. We must work together, and
separately to change things and make our country prosperous. We must criticize
ourselves for our shortcomings and we must begin with our self.
take responsibility for our actions and words and we must
uphold this banner of
freedom. We must have commemorations every week but it should not
end here, we
must have one voice and demand justice. Every step should be taken
carefully and knowledgeably. We must recognize our strength and
hopefully with one voice, we will overcome.
It is vital to recognize the importance
of Sirjani in the modern Iranian literature. He has a very special
place. In Simayeh
do Zan (Images of Two Women. See
in which he dedicates this literary book to Iranian women (be dokhtaraanam,
dokhtaraan mihanam) he compares
and brings into light the disparity between the classic love stories
of Leily and Majnoun
and that of Khosrow and Shirin.
Leily is different from Shirin because she becomes the victim
of love whereas Shirin takes control. Shirin is strong and is in
charge. It is love that
both women struggle with but in the two stories, Shirin handles it differently
than Leily. As a man, Sirjani, understands the plight of women in the two
societies and beautifully portrays the two women and yet he clearly distinguishes
between the culture of the Arab world and that of Iran.
Leily is passive
and becomes a victim of her love for Majnoun, whereas Shirin
is the strong one
takes control of the situation, and what he feels for Khosrow. In the
society where they live, Shirin is accepted. On the other hand, Leily is
condemned. In the book, Sirjani shows the differences between
the Arab culture
that of Iranian culture. Sirjani also teaches us the meaning of nationalism
and our appreciation for our culture and its many aspects.
Sirjani will be remembered as a writer who took his words and
his writings seriously and as a result, he was condemned to death
by those who unsuccessfully
undermined his efforts. His name and his contributions in Persian literature
will forever live in the hearts and minds of all Iranians.
this page to your friends