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The trial
Persian text

June 22, 2002
The Iranian

Set: on the left accused is standing, on the right five angels in white robs are standing and the judge is sitting in the middle behind the bench.

Judge (while flipping through the pages of the file carelessly): Reason for death?

Accused: concussion due to the head injury during torture.

Judge: (speaking authoritatively and formally): cause of death in your file has been noted as suicide though.

Accused: there must be a mistake then. I lost my life under torture.

Judge (skeptically): Although the cause of death has no bearing on your final judgment, you are the first who claims error in his file. Hum! Are you telling us that the messenger of death has reported your case with error? That's Incomprehensible, the members of death squad are among our best agents. Are you certain you have not killed yourself?

Accused (sarcastically): your honor, how can one forget the pain and suffering of torture? I have been tortured for weeks, flogging, electric shock, pulling fingernailsÍ.

Judge (disdained) interrupts him: Enough! Do you remember the name of the agent who took your life?

Accused: No, but in the torture chamber, they referred to each other as Doctors.

Judge (offended): Sir! Why do you give a wise answer for every question we ask you? I meant name of the angel from above who was dispatched to take your life. According to our books, he must have handed to you personally the death warrant. You don't even remember his face?

Accused: Face of death you mean? Oh! It was horrible your honor.

Judge who has lost his patience, point his finger at the accused and warns him: Don't you ever talk back to us like that and you better respect our court, do you understand? Besides, we process hundreds of torture cases everyday and seen it all. The cause of your death is not our concern. So, stop this propaganda and don't waste our valuable time. What difference does it make how you died, the point is that you are dead and standing here in front of us, that's all we care about. When the time is up, death warrant is automatically issued and the file will be turned to the executive branch and then snipers (as we call them here) get to work and there is no ifs and buts. However, this life taking procedure, is depended upon time and location of the subjects. To some people, we give an incurable disease, some we terminate in car accidents, and for many others we send earthquake and tornado and sometimes to have a little fun, we zap a shepherd with a bolt of lightening and smoke him before his lambs. I personally like wars better. These new bombs you people invented are a blast, you push a button and boom, thousands dead. Frankly you guys made our job easier and the good thing is that we do not take the blame for it either. And sometimes we become creative, every year; some people are selected randomly to commit suicide. We get a kick out of it when they think they are deciding their own time of death. But they only getting to choose the method and not the time. Your name is actually is in this list. According to your file, you were supposed to kill yourself. The problem is that you are claiming you have not killed yourself, which is unprecedented.

Accused: As I said before, the cause of death in my file is incorrect. I demand a complete review of my case to avoid further errors.

Judge: First of all, you are not in a position to tell us what to do and what not to do. Secondly, error has no meaning in our establishment. Who do you think you are dealing with, the Telephone Company or the IRS? Our intelligence is so sophisticated and accurate that we even know what humans are planning to do in the future, we read their minds. That's why these trials usually don't take more than a few minutes. The presence of the accused in the court is just a formality and to make everything look good, because we already know your verdict. You are the only one with incomplete file and several scrabbles on these pages. Your expiration date has been changed several times. Obviously, we have no other choice but to spend more time on your case. Please listen to our questions and respond carefully. Have you ever attempted to commit suicide?

Accused: Yes

Judge (jumps out of his chair furiously and shake his hands in protest): Are you mocking this court? Didn't you just say that suicide was not the cause of death?

Accused: yes but as I said before that was not how I died.

Judge: Would you please inform us of how did you die?

Accused: On my eighteenth birthday, when my parent threw a big party for me at the house and invited many friends and family, I had decided to kill myself. When all guests were eating and drinking to my health, I took the gun from my father's closet and rushed to my room to end my aimless life. Unfortunately, the gun was not loaded. I went back and desperately searched everywhere for bullets, which I finally found one in a locker. I went back to my room and loaded the gun and aimed at my head and pulled the trigger.

Judge: Humm, so you killed yourself.

Accused: No your honor.

Judge: didn't you say you pulled the trigger?

Accused: Yes I did. I heard a blustering noise and collapsed.

Judge (enthusiastically): Oh! Please, tell us what happened then. Result is important to us.

Accused: Although I was shot in the head, I had no pain or was there any blood. An infinite silence had filled the room. Something had had happened to me beyond my apprehension. I did not know I was dead or alive and then the door was kicked open and guests stormed in panic just to see me lying down on the floor gun in my hand and starring at them like a fool. I could not comprehend what had happened and why they were all started raising their glasses and drinking to my health. I was lying there in absolute silence watching their mouths repeatedly opened and closed and their bodies move back and forth in joy.

Judge: you are killing us sir. Tell us what had happened.

Accused: The bullet I shot myself in the head was just a blank. I had lost my hearing but suffered no other injury.

(Judge and members of the jury all burst in laughter. Judge who had laughed so much has tears in his eyes and as he tries to control himself, he put his fingers on his lips and invites everyone to calm.)

Judge: Very well. Did you try to kill yourself again?

Accused: Yes I did.

Judge (sarcastically): This is getting better and better. Tell us how did you blow this one up?

Accused: a few months later I tried to poison myself. In a cold winter night, I had a cyanide pill in my clenched fist hidden it in my pocket walking home. The town was covered by the snow. I was walking swiftly home to embrace death, unaware of my surroundings. Obviously, I was a lone passerby who looked suspicious to be hiding something and trying to avoid attentions and that was why the secret police that had seen me from a distance became suspicious. Suddenly, I felt a burning sensation in my leg and fell on the ground with enormous pain. Blood was spewing out me and leaving dark spots on the snow. I had not heard their order to stop. In a matter of seconds, they reached me and the first thing they did was to search my pockets. When they found the death pill, they became certain, they had spotted a high rank political activist. I was thrown in the patrol car and immediately, and they started beating me to extract vital time sensitive information. They were constantly asking questions that I could not even hear. Since they were not able to get any information from me, they kept beating me until I passed out.
When I opened my eyes, I found myself alone in a cold, dark and filthy room. My defeated body was collapsed on the floor like a piece of meet in a slaughterhouse submitting to death but my soul was resisting. At those moments I felt something that I had never felt before, the instinctive feeling of life. An unknown power within me was preventing my body to surrender. A few hours back I was rushing to embrace the death and now that the demon of death was taking my life, I was fearlessly fighting.

Judge: Insult is enough! I warn you not to refer to the angel of death as demon. You must use a more appropriate language to express yourself.

Now we have a clear picture of what has happened to you. The first time you attempted to suicide, you made a fool out of yourself and the second time around; you dragged your feet until you were captured by the government agents. And now you are accusing them of harsh treatment and blaming them for your misery. Worse of all, you are standing here before us and proudly claiming you have escaped the talons of death. Well, you shouldn't have.

Judge: (as he flips throw the pages of the file and fixes his glasses) according to this file, you were destined to live only eighteen years and not even one extra day. As I informed you earlier, you were randomly selected to choose your own method of death. Meaning that you were supposed to terminated your life on your eighteenth birthday. Your record is flawless during these eighteen years indicating that you were a good human being with no brush with the divine law. But I have to admit that your behavior in this court does not reflect your spotless past record. You challenge our record keeping accuracy, question our authority and agitate this courtroom. Your behavior is unjustifiable and I can see why. You lived beyond your time in defiance to your destiny. That is the reason you act in such manner before us. Now tell us, how long did you live after your arrest?

Accused: I was trailed in a closed-door court without presence of my attorney. The judge said the court was a formality because my guilt was obvious and sentenced me to six months in jail. But they thought I was a dangerous element and therefore, torture continued for months and now I am here.

Judge: Now everything is clear. After your eighteenth birthday, you have been living illegally and undocumented and that's why our record does not reflect your deeds during this period. You have been sentenced to death for three times which is unprecedented. The night you were captured, you were not supposed to survive the torture. You must have surrendered that you obstinately refused. Your sir tried to determine your own fait. This is big a sin by itself, even worse you sabotaged our bookkeeping system, that we can not tolerate. During this time, we have no record of you. You jeopardized other people as well. Do you know what is going to happen to the man who tortured you that night? He will be reprimanded for lack of persistence and will be punished for his failure to perform his duty. Here in this world, a complete investigation will be carried out and authorities at various levels will be questioned and disciplined. This is a scandal. You are in fact a dangerous element.
Do you have anything else to say for your final defense?

Accused: No

(The members of jury deliberated for a short time and then one approached the bench and informed the judge of their final verdict.)

Judge: After a comprehensive investigation of your case, this court finds you a sinner and sentences you to eternal damnation.

The sound gavel.

-- May 1992

Persian text

Comment for The Iranian letters section
Comment for the writer Saeed Tavakkol

By Saeed Tavakkol

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